Letters

What's Up, DOC?
In your recent article "Custody Battle" (Chris Farnsworth, April 2), you inaccurately describe as a "settlement" the recent agreement between the Department of Corrections and attorneys representing inmates in protective segregation. It was nothing of the sort. Rather, the department and the inmates' attorneys simply agreed to a stay in the proceedings for two years, or until the department submits a new plan for selecting inmates for protective segregation--whichever period of time is shorter.

I have agreed to listen to the attorneys for the inmates and to consider their thoughts on how to improve our protective-segregation system. I have stated my intention to survey other states in seeking to create a protective-segregation system that might serve as a model for the nation. Throughout this evaluation process, I will consider the finite resources of the state. Ultimately, the department will craft a protective-segregation system that meets constitutional standards and maximizes the efficiency of taxpayer dollars.

I remain convinced that to permit the federal courts to micromanage our system for classifying and housing inmates would mean accepting an unprecedented and egregious intrusion into our state's sovereignty. In Texas, a federal judge's detailed decrees in Ruiz v. Estelle so undermined prison order in the 1980s that an explosion of inmate violence ensued. Such an outcome in Arizona obviously would make life much more dangerous for both inmates and department employees, and it would be an ironic result, to say the least, for litigation that originally arose out of concerns for inmates' safety. I will continue to resist such uninformed and potentially hazardous intrusions into our prison system by inmate advocates, attorneys and judges.

Terry L. Stewart
Director
Arizona Department of Corrections

Chris Farnsworth responds: There was no "inaccuracy." DOC made an agreement with the plaintiffs in the protective-custody lawsuit to get it out of court. The plaintiffs call it a settlement. DOC prefers to call it a consent decree, as DOC spokesman Mike Arra said in my article, or a stay in the proceedings, as Terry Stewart says now. In plain English, it's a settlement. Stewart was offered a chance to express his views as a part of the article. He declined to be interviewed.

In regards to scum like pedophiles, rapists and snitches being put in with the general population of prisons and county jails, I am all for it. Maybe if people like pedophiles and rapists get put out into general population, they'll get the punishment they so richly deserve that the courts seem to fail quite often to mete out!

Lester Rees
Mesa

Earth, Wind & Ire
I am writing in response to Robrt L. Pela's theater review ("Leader of the Pachyderm," March 19). I feel the Valley is very fortunate that Arizona State University theater professor Jared Sakren had the courage to take on the challenges of artistic director of Planet Earth Theatre. Planet Earth needs to be kept alive so the Valley has a place to go see unusual and inventive theater. However, I would like to point out to Mr. Pela that his cheap-shot remarks about Planet Earth's past artistic directors Peter and Mollie Cirino were snooty and unsupportive. Doesn't he understand that PET is a venue for artists to learn and grow, and this includes all artists. Not just theater majors or seasoned pros. Even artists that are not perfect typists. All Mr. Pela did was focus on the uncomfortable chairs, typos in the programs and his nervousness with the homeless patrons that were welcomed to the theater (Peter and Mollie welcomed all walks of life). If Mr. Pela is searching for safe, comfortable, slick theater, he will not find it at Planet Earth because they take chances on people, which means risks are involved, which means typos may happen, and with no big budget, donated chairs may have to be used. Mr. Pela is a theater snob!

David Gonzales
Phoenix

This is in response to Robrt L. Pela's review of Planet Earth Phoenix's presentation of Rhinoceros, where Mr. Pela not only reviews the show, but manages to get in yet another dig at PET founders and previous artistic director, Peter James Cirino, and wife Mollie Kellogg Cirino:

Thank you for reaffirming our decision to relocate to Seattle, where we have been welcomed with open arms and open minds.

Peter James Cirino
Mollie Kellogg Cirino
Planet Earth Seattle founding members, and eight others

A Czar Is Born
"Our Hero." In whose opinion? I resent that you have the nerve to consider Jerry Colangelo a hero (Deborah Laake, March 26). I am one of the pee-ons who paid for that albatross and finds no redeeming value in it whatsoever. Why should sports stadiums be "slammed down the throats of unwilling commoners"? What purpose does that serve? Yours?

My hero doesn't take from the community then turn the phrase around and say, "I'm doing this for you." My hero doesn't acquire personal financial gain at the expense of others. My hero makes a difference in others' lives by showing them how they can have self-respect, integrity and love without money or fame.

I don't watch sporting events, haven't seen the America West Arena, don't want to see the BOB and can think of a million other ways to spend my time and money. If 1 percent of the people who waste their precious time on those events spent it volunteering in their community, spent some quality time with their children or visited the sick or elderly, this city would be a better place to live.

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