Letters

Letters from the issue of Thursday, June 16, 2005

Slammer Time

Below-average Joes: Paul Rubin's story is hard to believe. No, I guess it really isn't, in that Steve Cervantes died while in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's custody ("Assisted Suicide," June 2). What else is new, right?

What I liked about the story is that it portrayed not the plight of some exotic individual, but that of a common man with common problems. Cervantes was a guy who self-medicated to overcome depression, and eventually fell into trouble with the law as a result. If he had stopped his drug abuse, he would have gone underwater emotionally. He did anyway, only it took a lot longer than it would have without the cocaine, etc.

I only wish he could have gotten the benefit of legal drugs for depression. All this possibly could have been avoided. But then he was a poor guy who didn't have the wherewithal to pay for mental-health treatment; your story said neither he nor his girlfriend could afford medical insurance.

So he needed legitimate care, plus a few breaks in life. That guy just couldn't catch a break!

But your story was mostly on the misdeeds of jailhouse psychiatrist (and I use that term loosely) Joe Franzetti. Sounded like that guy was either too busy with outside activities or just plain inept when it came to, at least, Cervantes' mental health. It just goes to show you that people are regarded as animals once they get inside the criminal justice system in this county.

Rubin's story demonstrated that Phoenix is not only close to the Third World down in Mexico, it's part of a Third World whose dictators include two below-average Joes -- Arpaio and Franzetti.
Carlos Guevara, Tucson

Nice work if you can get it: I wouldn't want Paul Rubin on my tail. He's truly a journalist who "comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable," as the saying goes. Your story on Dr. Joe Franzetti's maltreatment of Steve Cervantes is a good example of that.

While poor Cervantes is rotting in a cemetery near Chicago, Franzetti is enjoying his comfortable life in Paradise Valley, and a fancy new job. The county was paying Franzetti six figures to do his job at the jail. Why didn't he just do it? Was that a lot to ask?

Most people will react to Cervantes' story with a big "who cares?!" Just another dumb Mexican biting the dust. And this one an emotionally disturbed druggy, to boot. I just found the whole story sad for everybody involved.
Tony Rios, Phoenix

Your bedside manner is a bit lacking: Is it a New Times cover story these days that a crazy Mexican hangs himself in jail? I'd venture that not many of your readers give a damn.

What I'm wondering about is why we taxpayers are paying jail psychiatrists like Joe Franzetti all that money to care for three-time losers like Steve Cervantes! When he killed himself, he saved us a lot of money on courts and lawyers.
A.E. Carlton, Prescott

Kindred spirits: In reading your article regarding the suicide in the Maricopa County jail system, I felt compelled to write to you about my son, Daniel Purpura, who also committed suicide under the psychiatric care of a county psychiatrist.

In my son's case, the psychiatrist had taken him off suicide watch only three days after he'd tried to kill himself. My son finally succeeded with his second attempt on November 25, 2000.

Allow me to tell you a little bit about Daniel. He was a loving and caring person. He was always there to help in any way he could. His only problem was that he suffered from depression. The only reason he was in jail was that he wanted police officers to shoot him. He was way too sensitive for this world.

I wish Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the psychiatric department at the Maricopa County jail were as sensitive as my son. I left Phoenix four years ago, and I pray that the people of Arizona can in some way do something to make your jail system more sensitive and humane to the mentally ill.

Maybe one way is to vote Sheriff Joe Arpaio out and look into fixing Correctional Health Services.
Constance Grande, Williamson, New York

Right to death: Well, all I can say is adios to the silly bastard who hanged himself. Society should make it as easy as possible for people to check out, if they wish.

It's ridiculous that a psychiatrist can't just give such people a painless shot of something so the check-out doesn't have to be ugly.

You shouldn't be blaming the doc, either. We live in fucked-up times, and I'd bet a lot of people who've bumped themselves off never saw a shrink once. I know lots of people who should be dead, but their punishment is to live another 20 years on the mean streets of Phoenix. Haven't you noticed such people talking to themselves in the library or sleeping under bushes in 90-degree heat?

But, oh yeah, our culture of life prohibits the right to a painless, safe exit. After fitful slumber, may they rest in peace. Poor bastards.
Fred Quimby, Phoenix

Other options valued: Thank you for printing Paul Rubin's "Assisted Suicide" article. I have a family member with a mental illness who is a patient at ValueOptions.

I am so upset that ValueOptions hired Dr. Joe Franzetti after all of the problems he had while working in the Maricopa County prison system!

I am certain that the Arizona Republic would not have printed this article. I appreciate that New Times has helped me advocate for my loved one. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known that ValueOptions hired this physician.
Name withheld by request

A depressing situation: Reading your "Assisted Suicide" article made me get goose bumps. It brought back a flood of emotions. I have tears in my eyes as I write this. The story made me feel like I'm not the only one who has felt such depression.

I don't know what stopped me from committing suicide besides family coming to my aid. If they hadn't, I would be dead.

It's a sick world where being in county jail is so depressing and inhumane that suicide is the best option. Something has to give. As far as I'm concerned, Joe Arpaio is a murderer of people's will to live.
Name withheld by request

Government Action

Coming down hard: Congratulations to John Dougherty for all his tireless work toward bringing down the corrupt fundamentalist Mormon church in Colorado City. The state is literally using his work (including "Derail Polygamy's Money Train," April 7) as a blueprint in going after the corrupt officials of the school system up there.

What's amazing is how long it took Attorney General Terry Goddard to start trying to make a case against these thieves and rapists of young girls. And as Dougherty has written many times, where was Governor Janet Napolitano for all these years on this issue? At least she finally signed off on state police going up there and stopping the madness.

Janet wants another term as governor. Let's hope that she grows the pair of balls some of us voters always thought she had and comes down hard against the crackers in this state.
Jack Williamson, via the Internet

Taking care of corruption: John Dougherty should be commended for his good investigative reporting that finally helped get the ball rolling toward taking care of the corrupt situation in Colorado City.

Dougherty seems to be a fine reporter who doesn't get a lot of recognition for the stories he writes. God be with him in continuing this great mission! With more reporters like Dougherty, New Times would be way ahead!
Dar Cobb, Phoenix

Military Intelligence

Recruit this: I had no idea that such unethical, if not illegal, recruiting was going on in our schools until I read John Dougherty's column ("Uncle Sam Wants Them," June 2). I have begun to protest to my son and daughter's school, but the principal says there's nothing that can be done.

I'm told that in George W. Bush's America, we must let military recruiters run roughshod over our rights by trying to enlist our vulnerable children.

Thank God I read your column so I can warn my kids again not to talk to strangers -- this time ones in uniforms. Funny thing is, we moved from up north to Arizona to get away from predators on the streets of our city.
Meg Green, via the Internet

Ruffling feathers: I wholeheartedly agree with every point you made in "Uncle Sam Wants Them." No Child Left Behind is a bad piece of legislation overall, but the military access clause really stinks.

I was made aware of it several months ago and opted my teenage son out by writing a letter to the school district (the letter seems to have gotten lost in the district office, by the way). Thank you for bringing this nasty practice to the attention of your readers.

Too many of your colleagues are afraid to say anything that might ruffle the feathers of the neo-cons. These underhanded creeps posing as leaders and lawmakers need to be dragged out into the open and held accountable for the wrong they do. You have helped to do that.
Karen Evans, Salt Lake City, Utah

Runaround zoo: It was wonderful to see your column! I, too, stumbled onto the military recruiters on campus a few months ago when they approached my six-foot-one 16-year-old in the school's hallway. This was even though I had signed an opt-out!

Since that time, I have been on a long journey calling campus administrators, school board presidents and PTA presidents, only to get the runaround.

They insist the recruiters are escorted and kept inside the school career center, but after a little digging I see that they are openly out at lunchtime, and even invited into classrooms.

Several of us parents have begun a counter-recruiting campaign. We stand 100 feet outside the school every week and hand out fliers with accurate recruiting information on the true risks of enlistment -- since the school has been more supportive of the recruiters than parents!

Our group is called STIR (Support Truth in Recruitment). We are hoping to get some press to show that somebody is trying to stop these ruthless predators of our kids. We are their legal guardians, yet we can't stop this! The school should be our kids' stewards, not part of the machine that sends them off to untold horror and death.
Sheryl Lipari, Castro Valley, California

First in war, last in peace: I'm writing to congratulate John Dougherty on the "Uncle Sam Wants Them" column. I'm completely outraged at the circumstances that young Americans, like myself, are in.

I find myself and my peers constantly confused about the choices our country's government is making.

I can't help but think that if our country can't recruit enough people for the Army without digging into poor neighborhoods and schools, then maybe the war isn't in Iraq but right here.

The recruiters need to listen to some Green Day.
Meredith Minne, Mesa

Dead Again

Keep driving that magic bus, Neil: Thank you for your article on the Noodles. I'm glad that you found the vibe infectious and the folks friendly ("Spin City," Revolver, Brendan Joel Kelley, June 2). It's about as real as it gets. It's nice to be able to go somewhere free of pretension, posers, fake Rolexes and $50,000 millionaires trying to out-bullshit one another.

This is a diverse group, including a few doctors, attorneys, professors, students, and, of course, "trustafarians."

The writer says he's "not a fan" of the Grateful Dead. Now back up and read the article again: the infectious groove, the warm people, the kids running around laughing, blowing bubbles.

Guess what, Brendan? You sure sound like you became a fan of the Grateful Dead. I'm saying this as someone more at home in the "indie rock" element.

The Grateful Dead wasn't just music; it was (and still is) a consciousness, a state of mind. It's being outdoors on a Sunday afternoon, looking around and seeing smiling faces everywhere. It's knowing that, right at that moment, you're in the best place to be.
Neil Cassady, San Francisco

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