Letters

From the week of July 12, 2001

Youth Movement

May the task force be with you: I am disturbed by the allegations and the compelling evidence presented by Amy Silverman in her articles on the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections ("The Kids Are NOT Alright," July 5). As a result, I have written a letter to Governor Jane Hull asking that she appoint an independent task force to review the conditions of confinement, length-of-stay determinations and aftercare services throughout ADJC. So far, more than 20 people have asked me to include their name on the letter. There are representatives from various faith communities, Democrats and Republicans, former juvenile justice system employees, attorneys, faculty and staff at Arizona State University, representatives of the business community, and people working in various aspects of human services.

We envision a fully funded task force with independent staff. A majority of members should be people who are not currently employed in Arizona's juvenile justice system. They should have total access to facilities, youth, staff and records, and be directed to do fact-finding and to make recommendations. One outcome must be a mechanism for ongoing, permanent independent review.

Some of us were involved in Arizona's response to the much-deserved Johnson v. Upchurch lawsuit. The conditions uncovered by Amy Silverman are reminiscent of the conditions that resulted in that class-action lawsuit. That litigation cost Arizona's taxpayers millions of dollars. No dollar amount could be put on the loss of life and suffering (among our youth and their victims) caused by Arizona's failure to meet its obligations in this area.

Jan Christian
Project Facilitator, The Restorative
Justice Project

Phoenix

For kids' sake: Congratulations on the ADJC article. It is an accurate portrayal of what has gone on in the department for a long time. David Gaspar is a professional whose actions are motivated by ego, and not intelligence.

As a former employee of the department, I can tell you the article was accurate as to the conditions and the indifferent treatment to which juveniles are subjected. There are individuals who care about the juveniles, but their efforts are thwarted consistently by management.

Please withhold my name, as associates with whom my contact is current may receive retribution. Please continue this inquiry for the sake of the children and community.

Name withheld by request

Superficial Unintelligence

Spielberg scores: In response to your review of A.I. Artificial Intelligence ("Toy's Life," Robert Wilonsky, June 28), I found that your review was lacking in a basic concept of the overall meaning of the movie. Yes, the movie was long and disjointed. Yes, it seemed to be self-aware of that fact by introducing cutesy voice cameos of Chris Rock and Robin Williams in order to keep the audience awake, or at least the audience who thought they were going to see a popcorn flick.

I found this movie to be the most mature work of Steven Spielberg's career. He is not giving his storyish, secondhand views of the Holocaust or D-Day. This story asks some extremely important questions as to the matter of existence and faith and forces the audience to come to some harsh conclusions as to what defines our very humanity.

The character David is an Everyman who views his existence in his world as special and is beholden to his mother as his creator, to give him function, as it were. Later in the movie, when he learns that he is neither special nor unique, he lashes out, much as the spectators of the "Flesh Fair" who take vicarious thrill in the destruction of the robots. They do this to give meaning to their own human function, which has become diluted with "advances" of technology in which machines take care of our most base, and in some cases refined, pleasures.

The movie borrows from many other movies (Blade Runner, Bicentennial Man, Waterworld) and makes overt references to the Pinocchio story. The most clever adaptation was the use of "Teddy" as Jiminy Cricket. Regardless, the artistry and concept remain strong. This one may not win many awards, but it was still a well-made film.

Dan Zemel
ScottsdaleFood Fair

Unchained melody: I am a working-class person. I do not live or eat like royalty, but have dined at Seasons a couple of times, and find both its food and service to be excellent ("Calendar Grill," Carey Sweet, June 21). Addicted to some of its lunch selections, I was disappointed when it stopped serving lunch. I am acquainted with some of the proprietors of the other stores near Seasons, and understand the hardship that retailers face in attracting business to that particular area. I'm hopeful that more people will give Seasons a test drive, rather than resort to the horse-and-buggy fare that many of the new chain restaurants offer. So far they appear to be a lot of hype, leaving the quality behind.

Mark Kroeppler
via Internet

 
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