Powder burns: Congratulations on Jared Jacang Maher's story on Marc Frank Montoya, "One Wild Ride," in the November 10 issue. It is a beautifully written documentation about what it means to come from the hood and what it means to make it out of the hood. In Jared's storytelling, he captures the range of struggles that many Mexican and poor, inner-city kids face -- from how loyalty to friends drags people into the gangs to being pulled over by the cops simply because one is non-white, wears baggy clothes and drives an expensive SUV. In ways that very few college-level ethnic-studies classes or scholarly books do, this story offers a richly nuanced understanding of the complexity of racial and economic forces acting in the hood. Mr. Montoya's story is a positive and hopeful message.
So I thank you for the story and for showing people that while there are no easy or perfect endings, there are better endings than being locked up or being gunned down by a rival gangbanger. If a man can land on the moon and a Mexican can make a good living riding a snowboard, then just about anything is possible -- no matter how humble one's beginnings are. Using one's talents to make a better life...that's real. That's gangsta!
Marcos Mohammed Ming-Gutierrez IV
Son set: Thank you, Luke Turf, for tossing a grapefruit in the strike zone with "The Price You Pay," in the November 3 issue. Peggy Jo Freeman will never pay enough taxes to cover the cost of incarcerating her sons, and she feels abused by the system?
With five murders, a sexual assault and an unspecified number of other charges, including robbery and burglary, committed by three of her five sons -- all fathered by different men -- it's safe to say she hasn't won any awards for her parenting skills. I don't feel the least bit sorry that it will now cost her more to place money in her scumbag sons' prison accounts so that they can get a snack from the commissary. She (and society) is reaping what she has sown. I feel sorry for the victims' families (she must be a proud mom -- five murders!) who have suffered because this woman couldn't keep her legs shut. People like me are getting tired of bearing the cost of incarcerating the progeny of tens of thousands of Peggy Freemans.
Mrs. Freeman has chosen "not...to be abused by the system or nobody else." Too bad law-abiding taxpayers don't have the choice to not be abused by the irresponsible Peggy Freemans and their criminal offspring.
Phooey for thought: A pity party for Mrs. Freeman because sending money to her jailbird kids will cost her a bit more than it did before? I don't think so. Maybe a pity party for the taxpayers who house and feed those jailbirds she produced and failed to teach right from wrong. Her wonder boys abused society, we all pay for that, and she thinks the system abuses her? Phooey.
Hard duty: The cost of electronic funds transfer for families sending money to their kin in prison borders on punishment. The Department of Corrections obviously did no comparative shopping, nor is it aware of online alternatives. Why not PayPal? Families can use their money orders to establish accounts there and disburse to the DOC. PayPal does charge for its services, but not near as much as the EFT companies named in Luke Turf's article.
Used and abused: It's really difficult for me to find much empathy for Peggy Jo Freeman's frustration at the rising cost of keeping her four incarcerated sons supplied with cigarettes and candy bars. Let's see...she had five sons with five different men beginning at age sixteen. Four of her five sons wound up incarcerated in the Department of Corrections. The Freeman boys have committed multiple murders, sexual assaults, robberies, burglaries and have conservatively cost the State of Colorado millions of taxpayer dollars. And she's declaring that she's "not going to be one of these women that's going to be abused anymore by the system"? Hey, Ms. Freeman, news flash: It's a drop in the bucket compared to what you've cost the rest of us. You raised a family of criminals; it's you and your rotten kids who have abused the system. Go ahead and whine about the high cost of keeping your inmate sons stuffed with prison-commissary junk food; see if I care.
Sympathy for the devil: Are we supposed to feel sorry for Peggy Jo Freeman? I wasn't able to muster up one ounce of sympathy for this woman. The fact that she has four sons in prison for murder is a testament to the kind of mother she was. She ought to be ashamed to show her face. I don't care if the State of Colorado charges ten dollars for every dollar she wants to send to her sons. This money is for extras, such as shampoo and snacks. These are not "necessities," Luke Turf. Colorado prisoners get three square meals a day and plenty of soap. Yes, a person can wash his hair with a bar of soap: This is prison, remember? And Peggy Jo Freeman's sons are murderers, remember?