By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Thanks for Robbins's excellent reporting about matters that are important to workers and their unions.
James F. McNamara, Research Director
Association for Union Democracy
HOUSE OF THE DREAD
Jennifer Gonnerman's "Anatomy of a Prison Murder" [April 10] was excellent. Last fall, as a member of the Correctional Association's Prison Visiting Committee, I toured a "special housing unit" like the one featured in the article. Such units were built to separate the most violent prisoners from the general prison population, but as Gonnerman notes, they are occupied mostly by prisoners who aren't major threats. The vast majority are confined for minor infractions of prison rules. The aim is to cut costs by replacing prison personnel with high-tech security devices and to house as many prisoners as cheaply as possible without triggering riots or lawsuits.
As a former prisoner, I know that being incarcerated has a damaging effect. The loss of individuality in an atmosphere of oppression, violence, and racism has a negative effectand a prisoner with a mental illness confined in a special housing unit will further deteriorate. My visit left me with a deep concern about our future as a country. In the words of Dostoyevsky: "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."
Romeo Sanchez, Cofounder
Alliance for Inmates With AIDS
Jennifer Gonnerman's "Anatomy of a Prison Murder" could have used more research. There are reasons correction officers don't go into a cell when inmates are fighting. It could be a setup. Without enough response, an officer could be hurt or held hostage.
The officers who were mentioned in the article did not face charges because they followed policy. To those who haven't worked in a correctional facility, it may seem that the way things happen is unjust. But prisons are violent places. Just think what it must be like to be in a place like the Upstate Correctional Facility, with about 1500 of the state's worst felons.
Glenn Sampson, Correction Officer
Mohawk Correctional Facility
Rome, New York
Thank you for Rita Ferrandino's excellent account of her time in the customer service department at AOL ["Terms of Service," March 27]. I'm part of the CS department at a very well-known Internet retailer. I handle the most highly escalated customer contacts. I'm the end of the line as far as handling upset customers is concerned.
Ms. Ferrandino's narrative struck a chord with me. Like her, I've seen the effects of combining an unstable or abusive personality with the almost anonymous forum of the Internet. In the course of my job, I've been threatened and harassed more times than I can count. Ms. Ferrandino's experience is not singular. In darkened cubicle farms across this country, there are people tasked with keeping order on an unruly and hostile frontierthe Internet. Thank you for bringing one small part of that world to light.
I have noticed the decline in classical music reviews in the Voice, and wish to remind you that there is a considerable public that has relied upon your paper to provide an alternate view to the establishment press like The New York Times.
As a composer of concert music, I have always been gratified to see that your critic, Leighton Kerner, arrives at a premiere of a new work with a score (he is the only critic who can read a scoreand does). He provides New York with a truly intelligent viewpoint, one that we desperately need.
I know your paper has undergone many changes in the past few years, but I hope it will not become an Art Free Zone, for that would destroy everything it stands for.
'GIRLS' NAMED SUE
Re "Twilo's Gender Gap" by Tony Phillips [April 10]: We transsexuals in the club scene don't always get treated properly, but the way Amanda Lepore and Sophia "La Mar" Munoz were fired from Twilo was disgusting. I used to work for a marketing agency as a cigarette girl, and was told I couldn't work at the leading clubs because they wanted "real" women. Like Lepore and Munoz, I could have sued for many work-related situations. But I didn't think it was worth it. Nevertheless, we in the transgender community do not have to put up with this.
BORDERS OF OUR LIVES
Thank you for Michael Kamber's series on Antonio Gonzalez's journey from Mexico to New York [A Link in the Chain," April 17; "Deadly Game," April 24]. Marvelous insights into the ramifications of this dynamic. Awaiting the next installments. Thanks for this window into another worldso close, yet so far away.
St. Louis, Missouri
Re Norah Vincent's "You're an Animal" [Higher Ed, April 3]: I am a recovering ex-zoophile who used to engage in bestiality. After receiving help, I founded a group devoted to the issue of sexual abuse of animals. I have been on both sides of the fence and am familiar with all aspects of zoophilia.
Zoophilia nearly ruined my life, as it has others, and to see this paraded in the media as another sexual orientation sickens me. This is animal abuse. As Vincent indicates, Princeton professor Peter Singer has previously voiced the opinion that "defective" babies should be euthanized, a stance which rightly angered disability-rights advocates and pro-life groups. Singer's outlandish comments about bestiality followed.