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Associated PressAssociated PressSeptember 15, 20171min1700

FORT CARSON — The Pentagon on Thursday denied a statement by a former high-ranking Army official that more than 6,000 soldiers from Fort Carson, Colorado, will be deployed to Afghanistan.

Patrick Murphy, who was acting secretary of the Army under former President Barack Obama, said in a speech at Fort Carson on Thursday that two units from 4th Infantry Division were headed to Afghanistan, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

Army Col. Pat Seiber said later that no scheduled deployments are imminent for soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division.

It wasn’t immediately clear what Murphy had based his statement on.

The United States currently has 11,000 troops in Afghanistan, and officials have said the U.S. plans to send as many as 3,900 more.

Most of the additional troops sent so far have been members of units already in Afghanistan or units that were already planning to deploy.

The Pentagon usually announces routine deployments of troops rotating into combat zones several months in advance.

Another 4th Infantry Division unit, the 3rd Brigade, is expected to return to Fort Carson soon after a deployment to Europe.


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Associated PressAssociated PressSeptember 8, 20171min380

DENVER — State records show members of a white supremacist prison gang from Colorado have been moved to state and federal prisons around the country following the killing of the state’s former corrections chief by a paroled member.

The Denver Post used the records and interviews to confirm members of the 211 Crew were moved from Colorado. One gang leader, James Lohr, who is at a New Hampshire state prison, told the paper about other members who were moved.

The transfers included a gang founder who authorities say killed himself last month in a Wyoming prison.

Colorado corrections chief Rick Raemisch says the interstate agreement helps states keep staff and prisoners safe.

Evan Ebel killed Colorado’s then-prisons director Tom Clements in 2013 and later died in a shootout. No other suspects have been named in the slaying.


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Associated PressAssociated PressSeptember 2, 20174min30
Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said Friday that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation will keep operating the registry, which includes names, photos and other information about sex offenders. A federal judge ruled that Colorado’s sex offender registry is unconstitutional, subjecting offenders to “cruel and unusual punishment” by the public and restrictions on their ability to find […]

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Associated PressAssociated PressSeptember 1, 20174min520

Colorado’s sex offender registry is unconstitutional, subjecting offenders to “cruel and unusual punishment” by the public and restrictions on their ability to find work or homes long after completing prison or probation and parole sentences, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch ruled Thursday in the case of three offenders who want to remove their information from the registry, the latest example of courts limiting states’ efforts to keep track of offenders.

Matsch wrote that the registry exposes “the registrants to punishments inflicted not by the state but by their fellow citizens.”

The ruling has no immediate effect, even for the three offenders named in the case, said their attorney Alison Ruttenberg, but each can use the ruling to ask state judges to remove them from the registry. The decision still could have sweeping implications for Colorado and potentially other states, dependent on how state judges and other officials respond this fall.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said in a statement that the ruling won’t affect operation of the registry. She didn’t immediately say whether her office will appeal the decision.

“While concerning, yesterday’s ruling affects only three individuals and does not call into question the constitutionality of Colorado’s sex offender registry as a whole, which continues to be lawfully maintained by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation,” Coffman said. “I am committed to having a robust sex offender registry in our state that protects the public.”

Ruttenberg said Colorado offenders can use Matsch’s decision to ask state judges to remove them from the registry or to defend themselves against charges of failing to register.

If the state appeals to the 10th Circuit Court but fails to get the order overturned, the case also could be cited in other states, she said.

“These people had done everything society asked them to do,” Ruttenberg said. “They served their sentence, stayed out of trouble and had done nothing else wrong but were being publicly vilified.”

In Colorado, offenders’ names, addresses, photos and other identifying features are posted on a state website, based on offenders’ registrations with local law enforcement. The offenders’ lawsuit argued that the information makes it difficult for offenders to find jobs and housing. Routine visits by police and flyers posted on doors clearly identify them as registered sex offenders, the suit says.

Matsch also blasted state judges who denied one offender’s requests to be removed from the registry for “Kafka-esque” proceedings that asked the offender to prove that he would not commit another offense and then ruling against him on their “subjective opinions.” The system continues to punish offenders for years after completing a court-ordered sentence, he said.

“The fear that pervades the public reaction to sex offenses—particularly as to children—generates reactions that are cruel and in disregard of any objective assessment of the individual’s actual proclivity to commit new sex offenses,” Match wrote. “The failure to make any individual assessment is a fundamental flaw in the system.”


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Associated PressAssociated PressSeptember 1, 20172min410

A recently created council in Colorado is looking at how the state’s public colleges and universities might take advantage of open educational resource materials to address the high cost of textbooks.

Open educational resources are free to use or released under a license that allows free use.

The 2017 Legislature created the Open Educational Resources Council. Members are charged with overseeing a review of the extent to which public colleges use open educational resources and recommend ways their use might be increased.

The 14-member council is also asked to identify open educational materials that could be used by colleges and create a digital repository.

Mary Shinn of the Durango Herald reports the council must report its findings to legislative committees Nov. 20.

Finding quality open educational resources is one of the main challenges for faculty members, and a repository could help Fort Lewis College staff, said Barbara Morris, FLC’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“I’m really very excited about the collaboration at the state level. I think it will be very useful to the faculty,” she said.

The college’s bookstore and library staff can help faculty members find free sources for classes currently, she said.

FLC students should expect to pay $1,250 each year for books and supplies, according to the school’s website.


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Associated PressAssociated PressAugust 21, 20172min210

DENVER — Noise is the biggest source of oil and gas complaints among residents in the state of Colorado.

During the past eight years, as houses and well pads inched closer across the state, complaints to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission boomed, especially complaints about noise.

In 2010, state regulators fielded 240 complaints. By 2013, that number had risen only to 252, the Denver Post reported. But last year, 419 complaints were filed with the state. Through July of this year, the tally is already higher — 704 complaints.

The biggest reason for the jump in those complaints is not concern about water safety or fear over explosions. It’s noise. More than one noise complaint per day on average has been filed so far this year.

“It’s intrusive; it really is,” said Matt Lepore, the director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which is in charge of regulating oil and gas production in the state. “You feel like your house is being violated in some kind of way.”

But the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission often does not punish noisy oil and gas operators, in part because there is only so much companies can do about it.

The commission’s rules set baseline noise levels that operations aren’t supposed to exceed. But they also provide exemptions for the noisiest activities, such as drilling, that allow for higher levels.

Regulators have no ability to punish companies that repeatedly violate limits for the most pernicious kind of industrial noise — the low, basslike rumblings that are felt as well as heard. The strongest action the rules allow the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to take is ordering a company “to obtain a low frequency noise impact analysis by a qualified sound expert.”


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Associated PressAssociated PressAugust 2, 20175min140

BRIGHTON — It was Round Two for Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, who, unlike many congressional Republicans, engaged once again with anxious voters in his suburban Denver district.

Coffman, who hosted a contentious April town hall, held another late Tuesday with several hundred constituents who filled half of a high school gymnasium in the northeastern suburb of Brighton. The event came after the GOP-led Congress failed to act on President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

And it came as Coffman’s Colorado GOP colleague, Rep. Ken Buck, declared the Republican Party dead in a Denver Post commentary. Buck said the party has accomplished little in Congress and “no longer has a vision for a better America.”

Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, in a newly released book, “Conscience of a Conservative,” echoes that judgment, saying conservatives have abandoned limited-government tenets for their own self interests in a dysfunctional government. Democrats are equally to blame, Flake says.

Coffman ventured that gerrymandered congressional districts that create safe seats are to blame.

“Most districts are so red or so blue. They have no reason to compromise,” Coffman said of both party leaders and the vast bulk of members of Congress. His own district, in contrast, remains highly competitive, though Coffman has fended off a succession of Democratic challengers.

He said he was considering, along with other lawmakers he didn’t name, filing a brief in support of a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the way districts in Wisconsin — and potentially across the country — are drawn.

There were hoots and boos for his support of a wall along the Mexican border and his insistence that Obama’s health law be repealed. There were cheers for his support for immigrants, especially U.S. military veterans facing deportation, and his efforts to ensure children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents are able to stay.

Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex was killed in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, asked what Coffman would do if independent counsel Robert Mueller, investigating possible Russian influence in the 2016 election, were fired. “It would be a disaster,” Coffman replied.

Like Coffman’s April event, Tuesday’s attendees needed tickets and photo IDs to get in. No signs bigger than a sheet of paper were allowed. A lottery determined who asked questions, though everyone with a question Tuesday had the chance to ask it. “No yelling, shouting or disruptive behavior,” read the congressman’s invitation.

Coffman, first elected in 2008 in a district that now has more Democrats than Republicans, previously avoided town halls, favoring private meetings with constituents or more scripted telephone town halls.

He bucked the House Republican majority by voting against health care legislation that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said would deprive millions of insurance. While favoring replacing the law, he wants to ensure continued coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Coffman also has criticized President Donald Trump’s threats to end subsidies to insurance companies. The congressman has opposed efforts to cut Medicaid coverage not only for those who enrolled under the Obama law’s Medicaid expansion but for those covered before the law.

Coffman has called for separating debate over cutting health law taxes for the wealthy from changes to the health law and including it in tax reform legislation. He wants a bipartisan effort to support struggling state health insurance markets.

Colorado state auditors say Colorado’s own health insurance exchange, which enrolls 178,000 people, may be financially sustainable for the next few years. But participating insurers have proposed drastic premium hikes for individuals next year, and many counties, especially on the Western Slope, have just one insurer in the exchange.


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Associated PressAssociated PressAugust 1, 20173min260
In this Oct. 13, 2015 file photo, people line up outside of the Supreme Court in Washington as the justices began to discuss sentences for juvenile prison ‘lifers.’ In the Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 decision for Montgomery v. Louisiana, the court ruled that people serving mandatory life-without-parole terms for murders they committed as teenagers must have a chance to seek their freedom. 
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

In light of Supreme Court decisions banning life without parole for juvenile offenders, dozens of Colorado prisoners who committed crimes as minors could be eligible for release, but only one has been freed.

It’s been more than a year since the U.S. Supreme Court made retroactive its 2012 ban on such sentences.

Many states are grappling with the issue. Here’s a look at the situation in Colorado:

How many cases?

Colorado ended life-without-parole sentences for juveniles in 2006 but had 48 offenders sentenced between 1990 and 2006, when the term was an option.

The state Department of Corrections says four have been resentenced, and one has been paroled. None has been resentenced to life without parole.

“We are aware of four or five others that are potentially coming up for resentencing soon,” Mark Fairbairn, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Corrections, said in a statement.

The prisoners still have life sentences — just with the possibility of parole. They generally aren’t eligible for that until they’ve served 40 years.

Seeking parole

State lawmakers in 2016 ordered corrections officials to create a program for offenders sentenced to life terms as juveniles, with or without parole. Those inmates could join the program after serving 20 years or 25 years if convicted of first-degree murder. Upon completion, offenders could be eligible to apply to the parole board; release is up to the governor.

Fairbairn further explains that in the cases affected by these Supreme Court rulings, the Department of Corrections contacts the inmate’s prison for a review of earned time, dating back to the original date of sentencing; the inmate is then scheduled for a parole hearing.

Long sentences

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in late May that extra-long sentences for juvenile offenders don’t violate the federal decision that inmates must have a meaningful opportunity to seek release.

Colorado has nearly three dozen inmates who committed crimes as juveniles are serving virtual life sentences of 50 years or more, The Denver Post has reported. Some of these sentences mean an inmate is likely to die in prison.