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Hickenlooper and the death penalty, former inmate 'John,' gender identity, and more 

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Death-penalty doubts

The NAACP State Conference applauds Gov. John Hickenlooper for telling the world he now opposes use of the Colorado death penalty. The governor's journey is a kind of template for the way abolitionists hope more in our state will come to feel about the death penalty and its egregious ills.

Gov. Hickenlooper courageously set out to educate himself. He reviewed reports, documenting the staggering cost alone: 10 to 15 times more than pursuing life without the possibility of parole. And he talked to surviving family members of murder victims to get their take on justice.

He was told that forgiveness is critical to the journey, but it takes time. Executions, he heard, deny victims' family members the time they need.

The governor truly listened and now has joined the ranks of Coloradans — conservative and progressive, victims' family members and law enforcement officials, black, white, Latino, other — who oppose the death penalty.

Good for Gov. Hickenlooper! The death penalty is broken beyond repair. It's just not policy we want on the books in Colorado.

— Rosemary Harris Lytle

NAACP state president and board chair, Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation

Sniffing out danger

I served as a correctional officer with another state for 11 years. That's how I was able to recognize the untruths in the latest Taxi Driver column about "John," the former inmate ("A law unto himself," Aug. 27). Particularly ridiculous was John's claim that there was a murder every week at the Fremont Correctional Facility.

Whenever there was a major disturbance at the facility I worked at, the entire joint was locked down. It was searched for contraband and an investigation was done. This process took days. John's claims, to me, are nothing more than lies. Lies that were told in a pathetic attempt to create sympathy.

Also concerning is the story about the Spring Creek Youth Services Center ("Workers kicked and bitten," News, Aug. 27). I believe the statistics on assaults, compensation claims and turnover speak volumes about the reality at Spring Creek. This despite the administration's generic comments to the media. I believe a forearm strike is a basic form of self-defense against being grabbed. The fact that staff at Spring Creek are not allowed to use this basic defense tells me what kind of danger they've been placed into.

To my brothers and sisters in harm's way: I want you to know that I understand what you're dealing with. I deeply respect you for the work that you do. May God bless you and keep you safe.

— Scott Freeman

Manitou Springs

Innate offense

"A transgender male who identifies as female"?!? If people were trying to gender me as a male who identifies as female, I'd be kicking and biting, too. If she was here, I'd give Pam Zubeck a swift kick right now, for referring to a trans-person in such an inappropriate way ("Workers kicked and bitten," News, Aug. 27).

After Coy Mathis, I should not have to remind Pam, or this publication, or this community, that the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act makes gender an issue of one's "innate sense of gender identity" and that there is no such thing as a transgender anything who identifies as the other thing. What one identifies as is who and what one is, regardless of when the prison system does for its own convenience.

— Gina Douglas

Colorado Springs

A cry for common sense

State Republican Chair Ryan Call commented publicly that GOP candidate Gordon Klingenschmitt (Quote of the Week, Aug. 27) does not speak for the Republican Party. El Paso County Republican Chair Jeff Hays says, "He's part of our team."

Our city is trying to dig out from a major economic recession and a dubious reputation of being intolerant. Therein lies the problem.

As our forefathers envisioned, our government is stronger without church interference. And, our churches are stronger without government interference. Separation of church and state works both ways.

Lois Fornander will legislate respecting the tradition of religious tolerance in our nation, fully respecting the intent of the Constitution. She is the common-sense choice for House District 15.

— Micheale Duncan

Colorado Springs

What's on the grass?

The other day I was walking past North Middle School and I noticed a warning sign stating, "Pesticides applied" on the athletic field.

The next day, with the sign still in place, I was dismayed to see dozens of football players playing on the field.

I made several phone calls to the school in order to discover the exact name of the chemical applied to the field. The best answer I got was that it was "an herbicide like Roundup" and it's "safe" for children and pets.

According to this Washington Post article, nothing could be further from the truth: tiny.cc/t4milx. If I were a parent of a child playing sports in this field, I sure would want to know what's going on!

— Nicole Rosa

Colorado Springs

Response from Mary Crimmins, interim public information officer for D-11:

1. The herbicide which is applied has the same makeup as Roundup, which is found in Home Depot and Lowe's Home Improvement stores, used by many homeowners and the general public.

2. The herbicide is applied only to areas where we want "bare ground," such as cracks in parking lots, playgrounds or sidewalks, along the edges of buildings, or tracks in order to prevent weeds from growing. Parents have concerns when their students cannot play on playgrounds due to thistles from goat head weeds that cling to students' socks, shoes and clothing.

3. Our contractor does not use this on athletic fields (it would kill the grass), however, they are required to post signs on property perimeters when spraying has occurred.

4. Our contractor sprays only at night or on weekends when there are no students on-site, once in the spring and once in the fall.

5. There were 19 days between the time the area was treated to the first day of football practice; our maintenance staff forgot to remove the signs.

The euphemism prism

Now, finally, more details are coming out about torture and "rendition" (kidnapping) of suspects during the Bush era. Torture was immediately outlawed by President Obama as soon as he took office.

Of course, the CIA did not call it "torture" — they sweetened it by referring to it as "enhanced interrogation." This is something like a bank robber coming into court and saying, "Your Honor, I did not rob banks. I merely engaged in enhanced income augmentation."

— Larimore Nicholl

Colorado Springs

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