Jailhouse Shock

Letters from the week of March 28, 2002

The Chamber

In defense of the defenseless: Thank you for your well-balanced and thoughtful column regarding Eric Vogel's alleged mistreatment at the hands of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies ("Torture Chamber," Robert Nelson, March 14). As an advocate for mental health consumers and a member of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, I'm disgusted that all too often stories of mistreatment of the mentally ill by law enforcement officials are considered too taboo or ridden with stigma to be discussed openly by journalists.

Certainly mental health consumers are a very vulnerable segment of society and should be most protected by individuals like Sheriff Arpaio whose job it is to serve and defend. It takes responsible members of the media and concerned mental health advocates to call attention to the gross mistreatment, neglect and abuse of the mentally ill who are incapable of adequately defending themselves in jails and prisons.

Hopefully many more readers will be as alarmed by your report of the appalling and humiliating treatment exercised under the authority of this most inhumane law enforcement official.

Laura Lawless
Tempe

Stop in the name of the law: I just read your story about Eric Vogel and I am sickened by this. I heard about the other two instances that happened at Madison Street Jail also, and this has got to stop. I don't understand how they can refuse to give up those tapes, which are public record. Someone needs to get some legal action going, and we need to keep Joe from getting elected to any more offices.

These jailers are murdering people, and just because these people are being arrested does not mean they are guilty and should be mistreated. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

I am willing to help you out if you need support to go after these thugs who think they are above the law. This is unacceptable behavior.

David Horstman
Mesa

Voter animosity: I couldn't agree more with Robert Nelson's essay. But I'm going to vote for this cretin. What better way to expose this jerk and the corruption and incompetence of Arizona leadership than having him as a governor? Can you just imagine the grist for the media? It might actually enrage the public enough to do something about the sorry state of the state.

Ray Stevens
Phoenix

Another one bites the dust: I have always been an Arpaio supporter; however, I am beginning to change my mind. I was so disgusted to hear how a mentally ill man was treated by Arpaio and his guards. This is horrible! The truth needs to come out. He should release those tapes of how people are treated within his jail, at least to the families. I am very glad that I was able to read this before I voted him into office. His treatment of people is disgusting and inhuman. The worst part is that he and his guards are so cold and cruel they perform this torture on mentally handicapped people.

Tara Misplay
Phoenix

Turn over the tapes: I feel compelled to write to you, as the column shocked me. If the allegations in Robert Nelson's column are true concerning Joe Arpaio, why would anybody want to vote him in as the next governor of Arizona?

Arizona must be very hard up for gubernatorial contenders. It's horribly shocking that even the very family members are not allowed to see tapes of what happened to their loved one when the truth is somewhat obvious.

Ian B. Tippet
Phoenix

The anguish of youth: I was very disturbed by the story "Torture Chamber." I can't imagine what Eric Vogel's mother must feel like. Her son was abused, and no one is speaking up to make sure this doesn't happen again to any more mentally ill prisoners. The fact that Sheriff Joe won't release the videos proves to me that three men were savagely beaten and humiliated for unjust reasons.

One thing I have to say is that power corrupts. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is an evil dictator. Even though I'm not old enough to vote (I'm 17), I'm going to try to sway my friends and relatives away from voting for Arpaio for governor.

Shannon Adkins
Glendale

Zoo Illogical

Pity the poor animals: Having just read your article on Tinkerbell ("Quilled," John W. Allman, March 14), I am sick to my stomach to think that any one of God's creatures could be so badly treated, by a zoo, of all places. There should be a public outcry; heads should roll at the zoo! Apparently we have 5- and 6-year-olds sitting in directors' seats over there!

There is one line in your article that will make me cry 'til the day I die. Tinkerbell stands and begs for her food, "cute." On a small scale, this could be compared to Auschwitz. Captive animals at the mercy of unskilled human hands.

Have we sunk so low as a society to allow this to happen? God help us all. I can only hope that a copy of your article has reached Joe Arpaio's desk. He is always looking for further glory; he needs to be more thorough in his investigation. But then again, little Tinkerbell was only a porcupine; had she been a dog, Sheriff Joe might have paid more attention.

I fervently hope that your continued interest in the events at the Phoenix Zoo will prompt more humane treatment of the caged animals in the future. As in all instances, what we are seeing are the results of pure ignorance on the part of the employees! But the real shame rests on the shoulders of those in charge, for not giving better educational tools.

Mrs. James T. Cassell
Via e-mail

Rattling the cage: I just read your article on the Phoenix Zoo animals, and the apparent treatment thereof, and am extremely concerned. Thank you for bringing this topic to light.

The feeding schedules the handlers set for that poor animal were appalling and make no sense to me. It appears they basically starved the animal because it wasn't performing for them.

Please continue to follow up on this matter, as I and I am sure thousands of others are concerned for the treatment of these poor animals.

Scott Rennard
Ahwatukee

Sad state of affairs: This article made me so sad. I am still crying. What can I do to help expose this, and is there anything we can do to help stop such animal cruelty in the Valley? Thank you for being brave and writing this.

Cristiana Joy Wiley
Phoenix

Animal crackers: Kudos for letting us know that Tinkerbell the porcupine did not "go gentle into that good night."

Requiescant in pace, Ruby, the painting pachyderm, beloved Tinkerbell and all the other mammalian "World Trade Center-esque" casualties of zoo terrorism.

Dr. Masibindi Mother Courage
Mesa

Smoke Signals

Somebody should file a complaint: I read your article regarding Rural/Metro with great interest ("Burned," Amy Silverman, February 14). We are parents of a firefighter who has been with that company for more than 20 years. We have seen his disappointment and shock as to what is going on in that company, and are appalled that the state has not gotten in on it. What he thought was a nest egg for his children's education and retirement for him and his family has flown out the window. You really told it like it is and I applaud you. Enough of all these cover-ups!

Millie Welsh
Via e-mail

Politics as usual: Thanks for "Burned" by Amy Silverman, and the letter "Fire Storm" by a former Rural/Metro employee (Letters, February 28). In the debate on electric deregulation in the mid-'90s, Rural/Metro was cited as an example of how privatization of a "public good" worked well. Now we know that faltering Rural/Metro -- like so many of these examples -- was built on low wages for the firefighters and plundering by the executives.

After the plundering of Enron, Ralph Reed (formerly of the Christian Coalition) said he was treated right by Enron, and the Secretary of the Treasury said that was the way capitalism was supposed to work. Really. Executives plundering and the rank and file left with nothing?

In the Year of Our Deregulated Lord 2002, one can laugh about Enron not being a "political scandal" despite all those political contributions and the hiring of political types like Reed and James Baker and the deregulation of electric generation and the energy futures market and the "derivatives" market, etc.

When an idea is proven so wrong, one would think it would disappear in shame, rather than still be pushed by these free-market theologues -- whether in basic health care, K-12 education, electricity, water, or fire and police protection.

Roland James
Phoenix

Visiting Vincent's

Crowded out: I am pleased that restaurant reviewer Carey Sweet recognized that, at least in part, Vincent's restaurant was overwhelmed by the crush of Valentine holiday diners ("Oop du Jour," February 28). I wish, though, that restaurants noted for outstanding food and attentive service would refuse reservations beyond the number that can be accommodated in their signature style. It is not fair to diners or staff to be put in the impossible position of trying to serve 500 meals in a setting designed to support 200.

In the end, though, if we diners insist on cramming ourselves, along with 26 other people, into an automobile built to carry four, we had better be prepared to exit wearing red rubber noses.

Sheila Dickson
Paradise Valley

Baseball Fever

Put me in, coach: I agree with Michele Laudig's assessment on the value of the Cactus League baseball experience ("A League of Our Own," Night & Day, February 21). An afternoon in the sun is the ideal spring fever cure. Take your "medicine" now, as most games at Bank One Ballpark are indoors. In terms of monetary value, there is an exception. The last two preseason games at BOB vs. the Chicago Cubs are at full season price! These are exhibition games!

This is fan exploitation at its worst. Why ruin Arizona's spring tradition of a fun-in-the-sun experience that is affordable for residents and tourists alike?

Joe P. Hutchinson
Glendale

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