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Mile High Morning: Three Broncos continue to push for clemency for medically vulnerable incarcerated Coloradans


The Lead

Toward the end of the season, safety Justin Simmons, linebacker Alexander Johnson, cornerback De'Vante Bausby and wide receiver Diontae Spencer met virtually with Gov. Jared Polis to urge him to take action to help incarcerated people in the state who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

And though Polis did not take as much action as they had hoped, they are continuing to push forward. On Tuesday, Simmons, Johnson and Bausby were featured in a new campaign with the ACLU of Colorado to continue to shed light on the issue, which also is closely bound to the concern of mass incarceration.

During an Instagram Live interview with Kimmi Chex on the NFL's account, Simmons had the opportunity to expound upon the urgency of the issue and why he and his teammates are continuing to take action.

"We've looked at mass incarceration during this pandemic and how, for the most part, prison systems aren't great with health and monitoring that," Simmons said. "And you look at what our prison systems are in place for and you look at the guidelines we need to take, like [being] six feet apart, masks, social distancing, all these things — it's almost impossible to do that in our prisons. … The thing we talked about with Governor Polis in Colorado — you look at nonviolent crimes that people are in jail for; high-risk of COVID exposure; they have stable homes to return to; for those that can work, they have jobs set up where they are able to work and to provide to society in a positive way. When you look at all those factors within our prison systems, it's almost a no-brainer that he can use his clemency powers to release some of these folks so that they can be reunited with their families and ultimately get a second chance at life."

The ACLU video also pointed out the actions of other governors; Washington's Jay Inslee commuted the sentences of nearly 1,000 people in April near the beginning of the pandemic's outbreak in America and Kentucky’s Andy Beshear took similar action.

"There's so many people in prison, that are in our prisons right now, that are nonviolent, at high risk of exposure for COVID, have safe homes to return to, have stable jobs to return to, aren't threats to society that deserve a second chance at an opportunity to live their life and to show the greater good in humanity instead of ultimately sentencing them to their deaths with COVID running amok in our country," Simmons said. "It's just sad that even after having a conversation with him and it seeming like he understood and was really listening to the stories from some of the guys that were on that call, it's really sad that even after all that he had only granted clemency to, I think, four people. … This is a hard time for a lot of people in our country. It's just sad that those families still have to go through what they go through. I'm happy to the four families that are receiving their people back in their lives, but for the other families, families like Ron Johnson and his daughter Amber Johnson, who has been fighting for him for so long, it's just really sad that the governor isn't exercising his clemency powers."

Below the Fold

Though the Broncos' secondary lost several key players near the end of the season, the overall performance of the unit in 2020 was above average, Pro Football Focus notes. In addition to having a cornerback like Bryce Callahan, to whom PFF gave All-Pro honors, PFF says the Broncos may have had the top safety duo. "Denver had one of the best, if not the best, safety tandems of the 2020 season," Anthony Treash wrote. "Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons ranked fifth and seventh, respectively, among 91 qualifying safeties in coverage grade. This made it back-to-back years in which they each were among the NFL's 10 highest-graded safeties."

The Unclassifieds

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