Justice for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos
Last Monday, Cuban-American Rogel Aguilera-Mederos (26) was sentenced to 110 years in prison for crashing a semi-truck on Colorado’s Interstate-70 in April 2019, resulting in the deaths of four people. Aguilera-Mederos was found guilty of 42 different counts, including vehicular homicide after his brakes failed.
Rogel expressed extreme remorse for the tragic incident. However, mandatory minimums set by lawmakers for certain crimes resulted in this excessive, unjust sentencing. He had no criminal intent. He was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And he will be serving a life sentence unless we do something.
We’re asking you to take action. This is not justice. Join the more than 4.3 million people who have signed a Change.org petition asking Gov. Jared Polis to grant Rogel clemency.
Rogel’s case sheds light on the glaring inequalities in our nation’s criminal justice system. Latinos are more than 1.3-times as likely to spend time behind bars than white offenders. Latinos are more likely to be denied early parole. Latinos are more likely to be racially profiled in almost all situations. When the system is fighting against you, injustice is the only outcome.
Colorado’s progressivism needs to be reflected in its laws. This includes re-evaluating statewide policies on prosecutorial discretion, sentencing guidelines/minimums, and biased laws. These policies disproportionally affect people of color and Colorado lawmakers have a responsibility to fairly represent their constituents.
If granted clemency by Gov. Polis, Rogel will still serve time for his role in the accident. But the sentencing will be more reflective of the overall situation.
We know change is possible. Last session, lawmakers passed a bill allowing criminal record sealing for those convicted of low-level crimes making it easier to apply for homes, start businesses, and truly live life with a second chance. This monumental step in criminal justice reform is just one example of the state’s power to create equity-based laws and policies.
We’re calling on lawmakers to seriously reconsider mandatory minimums for blanketed crimes. Coloradans deserve justice and this isn’t cutting it.
Alex Sánchez is President and CEO of Voces Unidas de las Montañas and Voces Unidas Action Fund.