He Should Have Known
It bothers me that activists hold up Rodney Hulin's story ["What Really Happened to Rodney Hulin?" by Michael Berryhill, August 7] as an example of what's wrong with sending juvenile offenders into adult prisons. I'm glad your article pointed out that Rodney was victimized by people his age. It shouldn't be that shocking, considering all the things Rodney did before he was sent to prison. I feel for the family, having to deal with unanswered questions and the loss of their son, brother or relative. But Rodney was sent to prison for a reason. I do believe that prisons are sometimes out of control. But it's no secret; Rodney should have known that.

Amy Oakes
via Internet

Something Better
It sounds to me as if Rodney Hulin didn't have the proper communication and closeness that he should have had as a young child. He should have been shown love and attention to pull him back to what was normal and real, rather than fantasy. He was not beyond hope, and the two alternatives given him show the horrors of our justice system. Sure, he did some wrong -- but he was not a bad-to-the-core kid. This was not a child who belonged in the prison system; he belonged in the probation system.

This story was disgusting, and I am in awe that we have adults who are deciding this fate for any child. He begged to be protected -- and he was not helped. This is worse than the concentration camps of World War II. We are in the best country there is, and yet our courts and our judges come up with a conclusion that gives a kid two of the worst choices of society to choose for his life. Something has to be done. With all the money spent on drug reform, etc., can't we give some misdirected (and only temporarily misdirected) kids something better than eight years in prison with sexual offenders and heartless guards?

April Collins
via Internet

Speed Bumps: The Key to Safer, Happier Neighborhoods
I was so pleased to see that you published an article having to do with forms of blockades ["A Neighborhood Divided," by Jennifer Gin Lee, July 24]. I have lived in two neighborhoods, one with large speed bumps down the streets and the other with a gate. In my opinion, speed bumps were a very good thing. Kids could play in the streets without worrying about cars going 50 mph. Then my family and I moved into a home in a gated community. Honestly, the purpose of this gate is to keep strangers, criminals and people not living there out.

In a way I can see how the people on the Dian side could feel, with the people on the Timbergrove side believing that the crime was coming from the other half of the street. From the other point of view, I can see how the people of Timbergrove would feel that the gate was a solution to their problems, but there are far more down sides to a gate than up sides. A better solution would be to place a lot of speed bumps along the street. People do not like to cut through a street that you have to go 20 mph on. Although I think that the damage is already done, and people's feelings are already hurt, the key to a safer and happier neighborhood is to have good relations with your neighbors.

Mary Elaine Curry

Defending Ms. Sheila
Judge Norman Black was a gentleman of the highest order. He was compassionate and kind, and this made him an exemplary judge. I am proud to be able to feel counted among his friends and was a pallbearer at his funeral. I wish to express my objection to the tacky, cheap shot that was taken at Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee in The Insider ["Pretty (Noxious) in Pink," by Tim Fleck, July 31]. Sheila Jackson Lee is a leading member of the House Judiciary Committee. She worked closely with Judge Black, who was the chief judge of the U.S. Southern District of Texas. I know that Judge Black held Congresswoman Lee in great esteem and that she had great feelings of friendship and respect for him.

I did not see Congresswoman Lee at the funeral, and surely I would have had she pushed herself into the middle of the funeral, as your article seems to indicate. The color of her clothing seems to be criticized. I can assure you that there were many bright colors at Judge Black's funeral.

Congresswoman Lee is devoted to her constituency. Whether you agree with her or not, she takes strong and passionate positions on issues of importance. She has risen from an extremely humble background, managing to put herself through the best schools in America to become a member of the United States Congress. She is hard-working, perhaps to a fault. She does expect a lot of the people who work around her. We may not like the approach that we hear about all of the time, but no one can say that this intelligent, articulate spokesman for her district doesn't give it her all.

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