Kudos to Steve Jackson for his series on the Brandy DuVall horror. The case reveals the madness and tragedy of the gang life. Stories like the one we have read over the last month in Westword leave us bewildered, wondering how young people can end up with so much disregard for human life. We have to ask ourselves what is missing from their lives that they look for in gangs. Then we have to ask ourselves why it is that people like Lonnie Lynn and organizations like Amer-I-Can, that work directly with young people to give them an alternative to the gang life, cannot find enough funding or support to function. Then we have to ask ourselves why we are willing to fork over millions for new prison construction while Colorado ranks 49th in the country in terms of school funding. We have to ask ourselves a lot of questions, but maybe we ought to start with these. We would do well to remember what old Ben Franklin said so long ago: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Just a little food for thought.

Brendan Shea
via the Internet

An absolutely amazing depiction of gang life and the horror that families must endure, whether it be a mother of a gang member or the mother of an innocent victim like Brandy. Both touching and horrifying, this story was incredible. Many thanks go out to the DuVall family, as well as the family of Theresa Swinton, for sharing this story in the hopes of reaching out to those who are faced with tough decisions in this world. My only words to Theresa Swinton: You are an incredibly strong woman, one to be admired. Thank you, Westword, for publishing such an astonishing story.

Trivinia Johnson
via the Internet

Your series should be printed in booklet form for distribution to law enforcement, school counselors, sociology professors and anyone else concerned about problems in our society. Also to those who believe there is no crime bad enough to warrant the death penalty. Rarely is a murder reported to the extent that besides knowing it was a horrible crime, you know just how horrible.

You have to wonder: Except for the killing, how common is the level of brutality depicted here? I am afraid it is more common, by far, than what is reported and prosecuted.

This series is a marvelous case history.
Frederick C. Sage

Let me begin by commending Steve Jackson for his exemplary articles. I don't think one of my emotions has been left untouched. I have been alternately riveted by his masterful journalistic talents and repulsed by his subjects and their heinous crimes. I have only the most unkind thoughts about most of the creatures in this story and will not waste my time expounding. I just cannot get over what seems to be a central theme in all of these characters' lives. There is absolutely no sense of responsibility for anything they have ever done or continue to do.

The only time I have laughed while reading Westword the past four weeks was when I read the letter from the "dead man" in jail, Sal Martinez, blaming Mr. Jackson for his impending death. Excuse me?

Name withheld on request

I am writing in response to the articles about my family and what has transpired in the Brandy DuVall/Venus Montoya cases. I must say that even for me, hearing some of the "truths" being told is a total shock. I wonder how I could be so oblivious to the things going on around me. I guess by my reaction, it is not hard for one to say that they don't have a clue, for instance, about what their children are into, or what "our" parents are into, for that matter. I am very proud of my mother and my brother Antonio for trying to help others from having to go through the hell that we have been forced to face in our family. I also share my family's feelings of grief for both of these girls and their families. I have two daughters, and I couldn't imagine anything happening to them even remotely resembling what happened to Brandy and Venus.

If any person can get something from these articles, then more power to everyone who helped develop them. Though I was not really fond of what I felt were Steve Jackson's original intentions, I can honestly say I appreciate what you have done for everyone involved. Thank you.

Raquel Brooks (sister of Danny and Antonio)
via the Internet

Letters policy: Westword wants to hear from you, whether you have a complaint or compliment about what we write from week to week. Letters should be no more than 200 words; we reserve the right to edit for libel, length and clarity. Although we'll occasionally withhold an author's name on request, all letters must include your name, address and telephone number. Write to:

Letters Editor, Westword
P.O. Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail editorial@westword.com.

Missed a story? The editorial contents of Westword, dating back to July 1, 1996, are available online at www.westword.com/archive/index.html.

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