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DID YOU EVER WONDER: Selling Memorial Park? Inmates and the newspaper?

November 6, 2009

A friend told me that something’s amiss in Memorial Park beside Prospect Lake — that it’s fenced off and they’re building something. They didn’t sell that land off already, did they?
— Jennifer

ANSWER: We received your question one day after the city property tax increase was defeated and, no, the city council hadn’t sold off the park land for condos.

The construction fences go around a universally accessible playground announced in 2007 by The Swing High Project and the nonprofit Shane’s Inspiration, in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Department.
It will be the only one of its kind in our area and will have ramps for those in wheelchairs; harnessed seating; sensory games for those with visual or hearing impairments; a rubberized surface for  wheelchairs, walkers or crutches; and elevated sand tables.


Inmates at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center have sent letters and dropped by the newspaper or called after release to collect the $30 or $50 or $100 they had been told by other inmates the newspaper would pay them for their CJC wristbands because “you’re writing a story. How much will you pay, and who do we check with when we get out?” wrote Inmate No. ........

ANSWER: Don’t grab the bus to The Gazette when you get out because, oops, it just isn’t true.
Various versions of this urban legend have been floating around for years.

An inmate sent us his commissary receipt for peanut butter crackers, salsa and chocolate chip cookies saying he was told  we were investigating the tax he was charged for food. Another said The Gazette wanted to investigate because people have to pay when they are booked into jail.

We checked with The Gazette’s Public Safety Editor Joel Millman, and none of these stories are being written. And The Gazette isn’t paying for any of these things.

Sheriff’s Department Spokesman Lt. Lori Sevene debunked the wristband rumor saying, “we take their bands as part of their outprocessing. If they don’t want to give them up, they really don’t want to leave.” As a safety precaution they also don’t release inmates in their readily identifiable prison jumpsuits.

About the booking charge, Sevene said everyone who is sent to the CJC is charged a “housing fee” of $30 “to offset some of the cost of their housing.”

Inmates complained that they aren’t allowed to call The Gazette to report these things. In fact, they can only make collect calls, which The Gazette refuses.

They aren’t allowed to read The Gazette, inmates complained. Sevene explained that all local newspapers, including The Gazette, are barred from the CJC “as a safety issue. There are too many high profile cases here locally, and it was causing too many fights. We also took their (criminal) charges off the Web site because they were being assaulted because of the charges against them.” They can watch televison, she said, and read The Denver Post, if they want, which has less local news.

So, inmates, there you have it. But since you can’t read the paper, maybe someone from the CJC or Sheriff Terry Maketa's office will pass the info along so you won't mistakenly think you're going to get that $30 or $50 or $100.


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