Letters to the Editor

From the week of December 4, 2003

Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

Petty is as petty does:Regarding Eric Dexheimer's "Scratching the Bitch," in the November 13 issue:

What a bunch of cowards at the State Capitol! First I read in Westwordabout Joseph Paiva and how Colorado grossly underfunds social services and then incarcerates those who fall through the cracks, and then Jamila Rochelle Allen is stabbed to death by her boyfriend.

The fact is that while one-third of female homicides are the result of domestic violence, most domestic-violence charges are misdemeanors in Colorado. So while people like Paiva, or even petty drug offenders, are looking at the bitch, potentially murderous behavior is commonly treated as minor. I'm shocked that women's organizations haven't taken on this kind of legislative abuse.

And the Denver County Sheriff's Office using this murder as a plea for a new jail is just as cowardly as the General Assembly's failure to make domestic violence a felony. The only reason the jail is full is because of petty drug cases. Given the danger of domestic violence, it's inconceivable that one could serve more time for drugs, burglaries or any other non-violent offense, as Paiva is doing.

David Noland
Denver

Playing doctor:Eric Dexheimer's "Scratching the Bitch" was a good attempt at thorough coverage of a crucial and complicated social issue. The author described the path of a person like Joseph Paiva in a comprehensive way. Cases such as this are not uncommon. Although I am not well-versed in the legal system, Dexheimer's discussion of the "habitual/chronic offender" helped educate me and highlighted the inconsistencies in the criminal-justice system. I was not surprised by the enormous discrepancies on the county level. In my opinion, this is a classic act of human nature: Allowing one's own values, beliefs and issues related to power and control overrule sound reasoning and principle-based practice happens in all professions, especially politics. This issue needed much more attention. The article should have focused on the primary problem of the legal system and less on Mr. Paiva. One area worth discussing is how the legal system can interface with mental health more closely.

From the perspective of a psychologist who's dealt with individuals such as Mr. Paiva, I feel there were sources of neglect during the early phases of his treatment. At Fort Logan, when he was about twelve years old, he received an EEG whose results revealed "abnormal patterns suggesting an organic explanation for his behavioral problems," Dexheimer stated. However, he also said "the discovery didn't provide any fresh solutions." This is a perfect example of how those in the legal system and the media know little to nothing about mental health, even though they frequently play psychologist and psychiatrist. Although the EEG supported the presence of "abnormal patterns," most of the evaluations cited in the article are filled with psychobabble and not grounded in the organic nature of his problems. Based upon the results of the EEG, Mr. Paiva should have received a complete neuropsychological assessment to help design a treatment plan to specifically address areas that would assist with rehabilitation. There could have been tremendous benefit to providing correct evaluation and treatment when he was twelve, versus making Mr. Paiva the subject of a cover story in his thirties. The temper issues that characterize Mr. Paiva are consistent with brain damage; this could have easily been a result of being shaken as a young child.

You might want to consider an article about how parents who abuse children are charged and sentenced. I bet we would be quite shocked.

Doug Jowdy
Boulder

Editor's note: For two very different examples of how parents are charged in such cases, see Julie Jargon's "Angel Eyes," originally published in the November 6 issue, and Alan Prendergast's "The Death of Innocence," from the July 31 issue. Both articles are archived at www.westword.com.


Highs and Silos

Home on the bombing range:Regarding Jared Jacang Maher's "Search Party," in the November 20 issue:

So you have discovered my old workplace, the Titan I silos out on the old bombing range. Of the six original sites, the one with the most promise is out at Elizabeth. Elbert County owns it and has a waste-transfer station there. It was the last to be salvaged, and only the high-value stuff was removed. A few years ago, the original "personnel access portal" still looked serviceable. It's time someone conducted a survey of this site for a possible museum or tourist attraction. There's a lot of history buried there.

The Air Force lost its enthusiasm for liquid-fueled missiles rather quickly after several tragic mishaps at Vandenburg and Roswell. Once, at 1A, the first site operational, they LOX loaded all three birds and raised them to the surface as a publicity stunt. It was quite a sight, plumes of oxygen vapor and chunks of ice falling off the missiles. Of course, the entire Denver press corps was invited to watch from the safety of the access road. This convinced the Russians that these weapons were the real deal. Many hours later, when the birds had been safely put back to sleep, everyone in the 451st Strategic Missile Wing started breathing again.

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