Letters

They must be confusing Arizona with Minnesota or Washington, which have humane prisons or jails. In the past 50 years, there has been only one arguably liberal sheriff--Paul Blubaum. All the others--Democrat and Republican alike--have been "conservative" by any standard. Yet none of them thought the jails should be run like concentration camps!

While I was on the City Council in 1975, I worked with Blubaum to make the then-new Durango Jail one of the most progressive in the state (not soft). We introduced OK Community, GED classes, general counseling, drug-abuse counseling, work programs, etc. There was a 30-member citizens advisory committee that was virtually unanimous on what had to be done.

Although Blubaum was defeated after one term, his conservative successors--Jerry Hill, Dick Godbehere and Tom Agnos--never felt the need to resort to making political capital by demeaning inmates. One reason for this--still not understood by the public--is that most of the inmates subject to Joe Arpaio's rules are short-termers like Dreckmeier who are clearly not dangerous and who will soon be back out among the general population.

I have been a friend of Joe's for 20 years, but I disagree with him on this. Many of his programs are not as bad as advertised, but they are disturbingly sold to the public as repressive--and the public eats it up. When someone is down, you don't kick him further--you try to help him up. I know of no young criminals rehabilitated because they can't have coffee in jail and have to live in a tent. I only wish it was so easy to change people!

Further, much of the repression the public glories in is illusory. My mentorees tell me that anyone can get cigarettes in return for candy or Kool-Aid. There are even some drugs in there, although not much. The chain-gang men and women are all volunteers. Although some guards are bad, many others treat prisoners with respect if they are treated the same. There are some rehab programs--especially for women--but not on the scale of the Blubaum era.

As for medical treatment, it is widely inconsistent. One of my mentorees got a physical exam within a few minutes after going to court, although he was apparently healthy and had no complaints. Another was there 14 days without medical examination or treatment although he was emaciated and dehydrated from speed, had an irregular heartbeat and complained of severe joint pains. Luckily, he didn't suffer any damage--they put him to work in the kitchen!

There is an old rule that you get what you pay for. Shortchanging prisoners from proper food, exercise and medical care can only hurt the general community later.

Gary Peter Klahr
Phoenix

Evolving Door
"The Man Who Loved Lucy" (Michael Kiefer, August 7) tells of "scientists" who treat skull fragments like baseball cards. Let's exchange this one for that one, inventing a theory that lasts for a few years until they are exchanged again. What a joke! There is no science involved.

Just decide how you think man evolved, then manipulate fossil fragments until they confirm your theory. Donald Johanson could make a monkey out of you!

Mike Hamilton
Scottsdale

I enjoyed Michael Kiefer's "The Man Who Loved Lucy" about the dramatic anthropologist Donald Johanson. Personally, I'm neither a creationist nor an evolutionist because neither has been proven, and I, frankly speaking, like both of them. Just as Don Johanson, Ph.D., is quick to point out, a chimpanzee didn't walk into the time tunnel at one end and miraculously come out Don Johanson on the other (even though a chimpanzee has 99 percent of our human DNA, it's not a match); neither can it be proven "Lucy" walked in one end of the fabled tunnel and came out Don Johanson on the other end, nor, for that matter, Mary Leakey. At present still stands the $1 million reward offered by a billionaire (who remains anonymous) to anyone who finds a fossil whose DNA is a match, proving it was a human ancestor. Given how clever "Lucy" was alleged to have been, wouldn't she have even grabbed the million bucks by now?

Philip Zurich
Scottsdale

Rainer Shine
It's really nice to see Rainer Ptacek's name in New Times ("Inner Flame," Gilbert Garcia, August 7), but, as I'm a longtime fan of his, I hope New Times will take this opportunity to correct a potentially serious misconception the article about his work creates.

The article states that "none of his five albums has been released in the United States, and his albums have been issued in so many forms with so many imprints that tracking down a particular album can be daunting." Most people who read that sentence would think the only way to get hold of any of his work is to buy Inner Flame. In truth, Zia Record Exchange frequently carries three of Ptacek's CDs--D.Y.O. (a compilation recording of some of his best stuff, and a real buy), Nocturnes and Barefoot Rock With Rainer and Das Combo.

I've listened to Inner Flame. It's okay, but it's not great, and I wouldn't want potential fans to have to listen to imitations, however good, of this powerful artist when they can get the real thing.

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