Dora! Dora! Dora!
Think piece: Okay, which is it? Dora Schriro is bad because she coddles prisoners, or she's good because she's come into right-wing-nutville Arizona with a liberal attitude toward corrections ("Dora's Darlings," Bruce Rushton, June 3)? It seems that your writer wanted to have it both ways, and after reading your story, I fucking don't know what to think!
Please, New Times, tell me what to think! You've been doing that for 30-plus years, so why stop now?
The thing is, what you could have nailed Schriro on, and Governor Janet Reno -- uh, I mean Napolitano -- was the hostage crisis. You sort of mention that, but you never really get into how that was so poorly handled. Maybe that was a time when Schriro's incompetence shone through, though I have a feeling that the guv was more at fault here. I mean, keeping the press out of the picture seems more like something that a conservative wolf in liberal lamb's clothing, like Janet Jr., would do.
I'm not so sure that having a liberal at the helm of our prisons is in any way bad. But how is Schriro going to get along with the governor, who, true to her butch bearing, is calling for a get-tough policy of building even more prisons? Do something about the sentencing mandates, Governor, don't play into the hands of the Jake Flakes of the world and build more prisons.
The prison situation is, as one of your writers pointed out last year, in shambles, what with all the private prisons getting used ("Big House Inc.," Robert Nelson, April 3, 2003). Those places make the old-timey Alcatraz look like a progressive institution.
Anyway, so Dora married an old man who died, and she changed her hairdos. And I really hate it when hot women walk through the cell block (read: the office where I work) in short skirts. Now there's a reason to hate her!
Don't get me wrong, I don't think kissing inmates' asses is good. Prison should be a rotten place, an Oz without all the drugs and gay sex. But we put too many people in jail in Arizona, and it must be a tough road for a liberal prison director. But, you know what, I don't know from your story, because you didn't even quote the governor or get at that point. Can Schriro be effective in this state when her boss can't possibly back her and get reelected?
Steve Rosen, Phoenix
Part of the correctional problem: I am surprised at your newspaper for the article on Dora Schriro. Former Department of Corrections director Terry Stewart and his ilk are a large part of the problems of our correctional system here in this state.
In fact, Stewart had a corrupt, good-old-boy system, and later padded his way into a private prison presidency. Schriro has proved her worth. There are larger issues than whether someone should have ice cream. Let all detractors of any correctional system spend some time behind bars, and then perhaps they can criticize from a knowledgeable standpoint.
Arlene Golden, Phoenix
Don't cater to the prisoners: It's so typical of the liberal governor of Arizona to bring in some do-gooder prison director from Yankee-land. As Sheriff Joe Arpaio has always said, what we really need are tougher jails, not play pens for psychopaths.
Let's just hope the governor doesn't cater to the ACLU types and let poor Dora Schriro love our prisoners so much that they want to stay incarcerated, and not work for a living for the rest of their lives at taxpayers' expense.
Look at all the stuff Dora sent in to those damn inmates who held the guards hostage. I'm sure they were having the time of their lives, with a woman to screw and all the cigarettes and food goodies they wanted. Maybe if she'd let the press in, that woman wouldn't have been raped for as long a time as she was! The inmates would've been trying to look good for TV and sound good in the paper.
Schriro looks like just another limp-wristed idiot. Both she and the governor aren't married. Maybe they can have prison sex.
Andy Randolph, Prescott
A woman's woman: I loved your profile of Dora Schriro. She seems like a woman empowered. She has followed the beat of her own drummer and hasn't been beaten down by all the men who run her world -- men who have proven that the only system they can create to incarcerate lawbreakers is monstrous.
She may seem weak to some, but she's injecting some humanity into an inhumane world. Why should we give up on criminals, when they possibly can be saved?
Anne Burton, via the Internet
Security breach: Good for you! I have a few things about your article on Dora Schriro to comment on. First, I concur that there was information provided not only at Lewis Prison but statewide that there is a serious lack of concern for security. As an insider, I know this for a fact. Director Schriro was made aware of this and treated it with an out-of-sight/out-of-mind attitude.
A comment was made in the story that she would have conversations with inmates but wouldn't give staff the time of day. More and more DOC staffers are noticing this. She doesn't meet with staffers who request to meet with her when she is the final steps to unresolved issues.
There will be another incident. I pray it doesn't last 15 days and that nobody gets hurt.
Name withheld by request
Progressive assimilation: Bruce Rushton is one hell of a reporter! He really did his research on Dora Schriro, all the way back to Missouri and the East Coast. Yet I still don't know what to think about her chances of success here. Will she buck Governor Janet Napolitano -- who looks less and less like the progressive she claims to be -- on building more prisons and call for reducing the prison population? Though this is a major concern in law-and-order Arizona, notably among Democrats like myself, your story didn't answer that question.
I guess my main point is: How can Schriro be effective when our governor is so much the political animal that she in all likelihood won't allow a progressive prison director to do her job? As for me, I don't care if Schriro promotes arts and crafts for prisoners as long as there are fewer prisoners to provide arts and crafts for. It's just idiotic to keep throwing minor criminals, like drug possessors, in state slammers.
Even rock-ribbed conservatives must get the point that it's hardly cost-effective to keep building prisons [to incarcerate] folks who buy marijuana for their personal use.
David M. Smith, Tucson
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Environmental affairs: The Clinton executive order on environmental justice clearly states: "Each Federal agency shall make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations in the United States." Bruce Rushton's article ("Garbage Time," May 20) certainly documents that Mobile is a low-income community, overwhelmingly.
The article claims that African-Americans are "only" 20 percent of the population living near the proposed Southpoint landfill. But in a county that is 3.7 percent African-American, that alone is significant. Neither the census data nor the article takes into account the concentration of African-American landowners proximate to the landfill.
With 50 percent of the landfill capacity for Maricopa County in Mobile, that sure looks like a "disproportionately high and adverse environmental effect" on a low-income and, yes, minority community.
Another landfill in Mobile will be an environmental injustice by definition.
Steve Brittle, President, Don't Waste Arizona, Inc., Phoenix