Real Time

Although Jennifer Gonnerman, in "The Miseducation of Elaine Bartlett" [February 15], paints Ms. Bartlett's history and family with tender accuracy, she opens the article with a cheap shot, portraying women in prison generally as predatory and cruel. In my 14 years in federal prisons and county and city jails, I heard commonly spread rumors of rape and exploitation of weaker women by hardened jailbirds but almost never did any of this actually occur. I met my share of bullies and thieves, but the vast majority of the women in prison are similar to Elaine Bartlett: people with kids, moms, problems, and places to go in life if only they could get a chance.

In 1985, shortly after my arrest, I spent 10 months in the Baltimore city jail. New arrivals were met with staring eyes, but when we shouted "fresh meat," it was to amuse ourselves by parodying the popular dime-store novel view of women in prison. The reason we gathered to ogle the new arrivals was that we were bored numb by the unending bleakness of prison days.

The Voice coverage of the human cost of the Rockefeller drug laws has been great, but please don't allow the message to be undermined by carelessly singling out Ms. Bartlett. Her case is emblematic of thousands of others, many of whom are among the women trying to lead their lives inside the walls of Bedford Hills.

Laura Whitehorn

Line of Fire

Re Rebecca Segall's article about Gidone Busch, killed by police who were called after complaints that he was making too much noise and dancing in the street ["Cops Killed My Son. Politicians Betrayed Me," February 29]:

It's frightening how much power the cops have over who they will protect, and who they will shoot at. Where's the line? I guess they get to decide that too?

Then I want to know the profiles of these people who hold such power over all our lives—maybe they aren't qualified or well-trained.

Despite the fact that the victim in this case had a hammer, it seems clear that he was not attacking anybody when he was shot. I have been known to sing loudly, and dance enthusiastically—and I've been misunderstood by others. Am I next?

Christiane Grimal

Bullets and Ballots

In response to Rebecca Segall's article on the police killing of Gidone Busch:

As a member of the ultra-Orthodox community of Crown Heights, which—until this occurrence—backed Mayor Giuliani with both money and political support, I must say that this case will definitely be a defining factor in who we will back in the upcoming senatorial race.

Mayor Giuliani should take heed of the fact that, although we in the Orthodox community do not march and scream like other groups, we are engaged in every aspect of political life in New York City—and please know that we do not forget when Jewish blood stains the streets!

Ezriel Schaffran

Teen Angst

I am writing this letter after reading Rebecca Segall's cover piece about the policemen who shot Gidone Busch and the article by Ted Rall about the Diallo trial ["Fatigue Sets In," February 29]:

Being 13 isn't easy when you live in the shadow of news about police officers who are ready to kill. If unarmed and innocent people can be killed by police in the inner city, it is clear to me that no one is safe. I used to think that something like this couldn't happen to me because I am white, and live in the suburbs.

Now I wonder.

Daniel Patrick Farrelly
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Caught Up

In response to Peter Noel's article on Lester Pearson ["Poster-Boy Perp," February 22]:

I am a longtime friend of the Pearson family. One of his sisters is my best friend. I really am glad someone has looked at him in a different light. Yes, he had his troubles in the past, but growing up in the streets of the Bronx can do that.

This is a young man who was trying to get his life in order, but once they get you in the mix of the system, you are always guilty until proven innocent. Thank God for a voice like the Voice.

LaShawn Williams
Richmond, Virginia

Whoa Nellie

Michael Musto has been writing wonderful copy for years, but he's way wide of the mark with his comments about Madonna noting that Rupert Everett is a fantastic role model because he's not seemingly gay [La Dolce Musto, February 29].

Gay lib is just that—the freedom to act the way you want. It's the freedom to be nellie or to butch it up as much as you want, depending on the situation you're in.

All Madonna was saying is that middle America expects its queens to be flaming, and marginalizes us the same way. Just because you're gay doesn't mean you have to be camp. It fucks much more with people's heads if you aren't.

It's about tolerance and respect. Lots of times people don't guess I'm gay, and it's not because I have some crazy urge to fit in. It's because this is me. And I don't let anyone dis my sexuality. Ever.

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