Three years ago, Colorado's state prison system kept nearly 10 percent of its population held in solitary confinement, a rate that was about seven times the national average. That excessive use began to change under Department of Corrections executive director Tom Clements, until his 2013 murder by ... More >>
Randy Ankeney was once a rising star in the Colorado Republican party, only to become a pariah after being found guilty of numerous sex crimes. However, he now has the opportunity to impact the state in a completely different way. A complaint he brought about alleged prisoner-release violations by t ... More >>
Update: Last week, we told you about a lawsuit accusing Colorado Department of Corrections personnel with allowing mentally ill inmate Christopher Lopez to die while they watched; see our previous coverage below. Now, attorney David Lane has released a 47 minute video that compiles shocking footage ... More >>
In January, Colorado Department of Corrections chief Rick Raemisch drew headlines when he sent himself to the hole for twenty hours, so he could get some idea of what it's like for prisoners serving time in solitary confinement. Raemisch believes that isolation cells are overused in the state prison ... More >>
The Colorado Department of Corrections has just announced the results of an audit intended to determine if any people on parole were mistakenly released early or sentenced incorrectly -- and the numbers aren't exactly reassuring. Nearly 2,000 cases were designated for judicial review, out of 8,000-p ... More >>
It's no secret that private, for-profit prison operators such as Corrections Corporation of America pay their employees far less than what correctional officers earn in the public sector. But Republican state senators have managed to put thousands of state workers on their guard, as it were, by sugg ... More >>
Yesterday, in announcing a reprieve for quadruple murderer Nathan Dunlap noted that Lisa Clements remains against the death penalty even after what happened to her husband, the late Colorado prison chief Tom Clements. What happened to Clements is that Evan Ebel allegedly murdered him, then took off ... More >>
At this writing, Juan Flores is a free man -- but he's not supposed to be. Flores was released early from Adams County Jail. He's been at large for the better part of two weeks now -- and the Department of Corrections, which has had to answer uncomfortable questions about why alleged killer Evan Eb ... More >>
Tom Clements, the reform-minded head of the Colorado Department of Corrections who was murdered at his home last month by a parolee, makes a posthumous appearance in a new video advocating for one of his favorite causes: more substance abuse treatment for chronic, low-level offenders, freeing up cos ... More >>
March in Colorado crime was dominated by Evan Ebel, who's thought to have murdered pizza-delivery man Nathan Leon and Colorado Department of Corrections executive director Tom Clements before being gunned down in Texas. But he was far from the only person whose booking photos rose to the top of the ... More >>
A recent push by state prison officials to crack down on the sexual content of inmates' mail has greatly expanded the range of books and magazines intercepted by prison censors, including such staid fare as Rolling Stone and Men's Health. The move has also prompted complaints from inmates' loved one ... More >>
A prisoner's lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Corrections, claiming a latex allergy so severe that he's suffered burns and respiratory problems when touched by glove-wearing guards, appeared to have been resolved last month when DOC officials testified that they no longer use latex in thei ... More >>
Will the second time be a charm? A screening committee has submitted a trio of finalists for Denver's independent monitor job to Michael Hancock -- two months after the mayor's choice to fill the vacancy left by Richard Rosenthal turned him down, and the mayor declined to extend the offer to either ... More >>
Last year a federal review panel heard some amazing excuses from corrections officials about why their jails and prisons have exceptionally high rates of sexual assault. One sheriff even claimed inmates were faking stories of rape in order to get cookies from researchers.
A study by researchers at the National Institute of Corrections has found that Colorado's approach to locking down its most unruly prisoners in 23-hour-a-day isolation is "basically sound" -- but could be used a lot less. Instead, even as the state's prison population is declining slightly, t ... More >>
Alan Prendergast's post about prison rape, which one sheriff compared to UFOs and other cultural delusions, sparked a response from a reader identifying himself as a veteran correctional officer. He says such incidents are no fantasy.
Corrections officials are understandably defensive about a controversial Bureau of Justice Statistics survey that indicates a high incidence of prisoner sexual abuse in their facilities. But is that any reason for jail bosses to claim inmates are concocting fake stories of prison rape in orde ... More >>
Big pics below.How many addicts does it take to make a meth ring profitable? Fewer than you might think. According to the Seventeenth Judicial District DA's office, a group of a dozen just-sentenced dealers and compatriots, led by Michael McCullar, are thought to have regularly serviced betwe ... More >>
Mark MangerA delegation from Bent County and Governor John Hickenlooper's office went to Washington this week in an effort to interest the federal government in "repurposing" the Fort Lyon Correctional Facility, a remote and troubled state prison on the eastern plains that's scheduled to clos ... More >>
"I'm only No. 20?"The Denver Police Department has trimmed its fifty most wanted fugitives list by half but multiplied the mayhem via its roster of the city's 25 most violent fugitives. The mug shots of those who follow first target Robert Juan Gee stand out thanks to the best neck tattoo (No ... More >>
Roughly four out of every ten prisoners in solitary confinement in Colorado is either developmentally disabled or mentally ill, a figure that's been rising steadily over the past decade. Senate Bill 176, headed for a statehouse committee review later this week, seeks to drastically reduce tha ... More >>
As reported here last summer, a controversial state study suggesting no harmful psychological effects from solitary confinement was drawing heated protests from prison activists even before it was published. Now that it's been released, psychiatric experts and the ACLU of Colorado are saying ... More >>
Here at the Criminal Affairs Desk, we get letters from inmates. Boy, do we get letters. But one recent missive from a Colorado prisoner offers some of the best advice we've ever heard for negotiating a long stretch in the state prison system. Such as: Don't ask, don't snitch. Keep an eye out ... More >>
Roberto Rodriguez.In recent months, two high school coaches -- Broomfield's Trevor Masse and Longmont's Alex Tinsley -- have been busted on suspicion of inappropriate sexual contact with students. So the five-year sentence handed to Roberto Rodriguez, a middle-school soccer coach, for doing p ... More >>
Mark MangerFort Lyon inmates say they faced asbestos exposure in maintenance operations. A recent story in the Topeka Capital-Journal about a 2005 renovation at a Kansas women's prison has a familiar ring to it. Inmates and corrections employees have long claimed that they were forced to rem ... More >>
The 2010 census gives states a new option for how to count their prison population, a move that could provide additional political leverage to urban areas -- which, in Colorado, means more power to the Front Range and less to places like Fremont, Logan and Crowley counties. In the past, the ... More >>
Davies loves a good debate. The avid Denver Post reader posted 624 comments in response to articles on the newspaper's website during a nine-month period that started last February -- an average of fifteen comments a week -- on topics ranging from Afghanistan to global warming, campaign fina ... More >>
Recent Denver Post stories about increasing inmate violence at some state prisons have arrived just in time for the annual budget battle between lawmakers and the Colorado Department of Corrections -- a nice bit of timing that should be regarded with a certain wariness. The DOC would like t ... More >>
What goes on beyond the fence? Solitary Watch wants to know.Get in serious trouble, go to prison. Get into some bad shit inside prison -- attacking staff, running heroin, or maybe somebody doesn't like your gang tattoo -- and you go to the hole, also known as solitary confinement or (in priso ... More >>
You got to love the way officials in this state think. According to this item in the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Department of Corrections has decided to ban visitors and volunteers from state and private prisons for at least a week, describing the move as a "precautionary" step to keep s ... More >>
Medical treatment for prisoners and halfway-house residents can be tough to swallow. Health care inside prison walls can be downright criminal, a situation we’ve chronicled in some detail in our Crime and Punishment Archive. But the care can actually be worse for parolees, since the Colorado Dep ... More >>
On May 14 the Colorado Department of Corrections announced that it would be bringing nearly 500 state prisoners back from Sayre, Oklahoma, where they'd been stored in a private lockup like so much toxic waste for months because of a lack of bedspace in Colorado prisons. At first glance, this is goo ... More >>
As we first reported in our February 28 cover story, Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney Carol Chambers has found an unusual way to fund half of the six death-penalty prosecutions her office is now pursuing. She’s billed the Colorado Department of Corrections hundreds of thousands of dollars for ... More >>
Back in November Westword published "The Poisoned Pen of Fort Lyon," which examined the toxic history of Fort Lyon, a frontier fort turned veterans' hospital turned prison. Since the place was turned over to the Colorado Department of Corrections in 2001, there have been numerous instances of inmate ... More >>
It's been dark days for Colorado, what with Ward Churchill, JonBenet Ramsey and Michael Tracey in particular (and CU in general) in the news. How like the national media to kick a good state when it's down. Two weeks ago, the New Yorker sidelined Denver, calling it a "second-tier city" in a piece ab ... More >>
The monks have moved on, but it's another vintage year in Cañon City.
The cost of sending money to prisoners just went up -- way up.
From kitty cut-ups to an airline named Ted, this was one oddball year.
From the week of January 2, 2003
Sugar and spice
Joe Paolino played a major role in cases that have cost the state more than a million dollars.
A snitch in time...
Pharmacist Bob Gusich has been a real pill for the state prison system.
Transported by private companies, wayward inmates discover that their journey to prison can be a long, strange trip.
Frying taco shells, growing zinnias--it's all in a day's work for Colorado prisoners.