By last count, the Justice Department estimates about 80,000 U.S. inmates live in some kind of restricted housing.

That means being confined to a cell for about 22 hours a day.

"You are going to eat, sleep and defecate in a small room that's actually smaller than the size of your average parking space," said Amy Fettig, a lawyer who runs the Stop Solitary campaign for the American Civil Liberties Union. "And you're going to do that for months, years and sometimes even decades on end."

Fettig said solitary confinement is brutal and expensive.

A decade ago, plans were drawn up for a huge Veterans Affairs hospital near Denver intended to replace old and crowded facilities for nearly 400,000 vets in Colorado and neighboring states.

The original budget was $328 million, but that was totally unrealistic, the VA now acknowledges. So how much did it finally cost?

The states that set up their own insurance marketplaces have nothing to lose in King v. Burwell, the big Supreme Court case that will be decided by the end of June. But that doesn't mean those states are breathing easy.

With varying degrees of difficulty, all of the state-based exchanges are struggling to figure out how to become financially self-sufficient as the spigot of federal start-up money shuts off.

As 2016 campaigns heat up, Republicans are working to boost their momentum among Latino voters, and the numbers make it easy to see why.

Has American English become homogenized? Have our regional ways of saying particular things — sometimes in very particular ways — receded into the past? Or do we talk as funny as ever?

Sheep ranchers, feedlot owners, and processors in states like Colorado, Nebraska and Illinois are banking on America becoming a more diverse place.

Specifically, they want American Muslims to buy more of their lamb.

The first thing you notice when you get on Willie Nelson's tour bus is a pungent aroma. Parked outside a gigantic casino and performance venue in Thackerville, Okla., Nelson offers NPR's David Greene a joint, which Greene declines. Nelson says he understands.

Updated at 8:55 a.m. ET

More than 5,000 people are confirmed dead from Saturday's earthquake just outside Kathmandu, Nepal. Nearly 11,000 more were injured, according to Nepal's National Emergency Operation Center.

From Kathmandu, NPR's Kirk Siegler reports that strong tremors are continuing:

It's been nearly three years since 12 people were killed in Aurora, Colo., at a midnight premier of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises.

James Holmes' legal team admits he was behind the massacre, but there are two key questions: Was he insane, and should he be put to death?

Tom Teves says his son Alex made a split-second decision to shield his girlfriend when the gunman stormed the theater and began firing into the crowd.

'Vermilion' Finds New Magic In The Old West

Apr 24, 2015

History may be written by the victors, but alternate history is written by anyone with a lust for the past — both established and imagined. Molly Tanzer's imagination is keener than almost anyone's. Her new novel, Vermilion is a work of alt-history that finds a fresh kind of magic in the mingling of fact and fantasy. In the book's wild vision of 1870, the North won the Civil War with the help of a race of intelligent, talking bears. A similarly endowed species of sea lion keeps shop in the streets of San Francisco.

Public perceptions of marijuana have come a long way. Once a symbol of the counterculture, pot has become part of the culture.

In Colorado, it's part of everyday culture.

Colorado has allowed medical marijuana since 2001, but voters amended the state constitution in 2012 to allow private marijuana consumption for adults aged 21 or older. The first-ever stores to sell state-regulated recreational pot opened their doors on Jan. 1, 2014.

The law has raised serious concerns for parents and those working with kids to keep young people away from drugs.

Across New York state this week, some students are refusing to take a test, and they're not getting punished for it. The test is a Common Core-aligned, federally mandated exam, and students, parents and educators are part of what they're calling the opt-out movement.

Opt-outs made news last week in several states: Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, to name a few. The objections are similar everywhere. But no state is posting numbers like New York.

While a cure for cancer remains elusive, we already know how to keep many cases of the disease from developing in the first place.

People can reduce cancer risks by keeping a healthful weight and avoiding cigarettes.

But smoking, obesity and other major cancer risk factors remain common, and they still vary widely across the country.

The arrest of South Carolina police Officer Michael Slager, who shot and killed Walter Scott in North Charleston this week, came shortly after the release of a cellphone video recorded by an eyewitness.

The filming of police by civilians has also sparked controversy, and it often causes confusion about what is legal.

Pesticide-free? Nurtured with organic fertilizer? No antibiotics?

Ask any shopper, and you're bound to find mixed answers for what an organic label means.

Now, an association is trying to draw funding from something called a "checkoff" to pay for consumer advertising and research. For a checkoff to work, each farmer pays a small amount. For example, a penny-per-bushel of wheat or a dollar per cow would generate millions of dollars in pooled funding that could pay for splashy ad campaigns.

It's not the salt shakers on our tables that explain why Americans consume way too much sodium. It's the processed foods we buy in grocery stores.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Colorado is famous for its beer and its beef. But what about its farm drones?

Go to renew your driver's license in Oregon, and you will now be signed up to vote automatically.

It's the first state in the country with that sort of law, which is designed to make voting easier, and stands in contrast to the trend seen in the past several years in more conservative states.

The divide between Republicans and Democrats on pot politics is narrowing, President Barack Obama said in an interview Monday.

Like many schools across Colorado, Arapahoe Ridge High School in Boulder has seen an increase in overall drug incidents since recreational marijuana became legal.

While public schools aren't required to report marijuana incidents separately from other drugs such as cocaine, evidence compiled by Rocky Mountain PBS I-News suggests more students are using marijuana.

The state of Colorado is facing new lawsuits over recreational marijuana legalization. The Washington D.C. based Safe Streets Alliance is suing the state in federal court to try and close down the industry.

"It is illegal under federal law to sell marijuana and in this country federal law is the supreme law of the land," said David Thompson, the lead attorney for the Safe Streets Alliance.

The federal government banned the sale of raw milk across state lines nearly three decades ago because it poses a threat to public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association all strongly advise people not to drink it.

Coloradoans pride themselves on the quality of their drinking water, most of which originates high up in the Rocky Mountains. On the Eastern Plains though, many communities have water that not only tastes bad, it's out of compliance with federal drinking water standards.

At the J and L Cafe in downtown Sterling you'll find diners sipping glasses of tap water as they enjoy lunch. Just a year ago, that wasn't the case.

"You couldn't hardly drink it," said diner Kathy Orchid, she never used to drink the tap water. "It's much better [now]."

Parents have made news recently after being detained for purposefully leaving children on their own, prompting renewed debate about so-called "free-range parenting."

That includes Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, a Silver Spring, Md., couple who are being investigated after they let their children, ages 10 and 6, walk home from a park last month by themselves.

Gunnison Sage Grouse
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office has filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the listing of the Gunnison sage grouse.

Last November, the grouse was listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. 

After the announcement, Colorado along with environmental groups and local governments threatened to sue. 

On Wednesday the state filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the listing.

Put it in the category of things we know for sure that just ain't so.

No sooner did the Democratic National Committee announce it had chosen Philadelphia, Pa., as its 2016 convention site than a lot of us political analyst types popped out the conventional wisdom about "appealing to a swing state in the general election."

It sounds good and it makes sense, as far as it goes. It just doesn't go very far.

Kids, Children

A report that grades Colorado on the health of its citizens gave the state high marks for adult health, but mediocre scores for child health.

The 2015 Colorado Health Report Card uses indicators like obesity, poverty and access to medical care as ways to measure the overall health of people in the state. The Colorado Health Foundation puts out the report. 

When voters in four U.S. states — Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon — approved recreational marijuana sales, part of the appeal was the promise of a new revenue source to buoy cash-strapped cities and states.

But tensions are growing in those four states over how the tax rewards from pot sales should be divided. Local governments want to get what they say is their share of pot tax revenue.