Locked Up with the Lord

Faith-based rehab: "Doing Time with JC in the TDCJ" was a great article [by Scott Nowell, September 18]. In my opinion, most men and women come out of the Texas prison system committing worse crimes if they don't have a loving and strong family to stand by them. They don't stand a chance because they become hardened and bitter.

Why? Our legal system is not perfect, and individuals like Mark Kleiman view these men and women as statistics and numbers. They have no idea what life behind bars is like, what it is to live in constant fear for your life, from both inmates and guards. Nor does he know what it is like to be denied the right to be human! These men and women have to endure so much humiliation and so many wrongs.

I am all for putting anyone behind bars if they break the law, but let's remember that not all prisoners are murderers, child molesters, drug dealers or rapists. Before Mr. Kleiman can object to programs like InnerChange, he should walk a mile in their shoes. Even if only a percentage of prisoners benefit from the program, then my dollar is well spent. The majority of prisons do not have adequate rehabilitational, educational, spiritual or psychological programs -- except for weight-lifting and tattooing!

Rehabilitation to me means treating people with dignity and providing them with the right skills to make it in the world. What better way to start than with God's word; I have never known or heard of God failing us.

Wendolyn Beck

Prime choice: Kudos to Scott and Dan. I do not agree with any of the opposing views, and I am sure they do not agree with me. I am always amazed to see how politics runs through everything.

Scott did a good job of presenting both sides. Those who oppose InnerChange Fellowship Initiative and the work being done inside the Carol Vance Unit obviously have a problem with a Christian world-view, and that is their right. I find it strange that so much focus was placed on the murderous felons and conservative politicians in the program. The success stories with the victims, the families of the incarcerated and the incarcerated themselves were not so prevalent.

IFI is not about politics and murder, it is instead about seeing men changed from the inside while inside -- a change of heart inside a heartless environment. We are not there to preach but to share the love of God. Why is that a problem? The prisoners and the volunteers are in the Vance Unit by choice. I thought "choice" was a good thing.

Tony Minchew

I led three lives: Being a mentor in the IFI program for the last four years or so, I think I can speak to how the program has worked. Next week my fourth protégé will walk out from behind the walls at Carol Vance, and I expect he'll never return behind bars again.

Let me tell you about my protégés. Chris had been sent to prison four times; he was a hardened criminal. Chris could steal you blind, loan-shark ya', sell you dope and get you a hooker. Chris was the quintessential street hustler. Chris is now an administrator of hospices and halfway houses in Dallas.

Julius, when he was busted, had over $200,000 under his bed from cocaine sales and profits from his chop shop. He'd spent most of his adult life behind bars. He's getting married next week, works a regular 40-plus hours a week and is buying a home for his family.

LT was a crack addict; statistically only about 15 percent of crack addicts ever recover. LT has his own business, has been out well over a year and is doing fine.

Three hardened criminals, and their lives changed for the better. All were multiple offenders. It's not IFI that changes men, it's Jesus Christ; and these men are truly changed.

The changes are real and substantial. You should talk to them to find out if the program really works.

Walter Hammock

Collaring Christ: Why does your prison Christ have buttons on his shirt and such a nice stiff collar? He looks more like a sleeved-out dental technician than the son of God doing hard time.

Mike Reed

Abbott's Way

Out-of-control HISD: Upon reading the letters on the subject of Terry Abbott and HISD [Letters, "HISD Stonewalling," September 18], I get angry all over again. The situation is clearly out of control. And still no one within the HISD administration has ended his self-serving and narcissistic reign.

All media outlets and citizens alike should force Mr. Abbott to publicly come forward in an attempt to justify his blatant abuse of authority. I would also suggest that Mr. Abbott provide HISD's governing boards written approval of his policies.

These reasons, along with many more, are why my child does not attend an HISD school. Furthermore, shame on you, Kaye!

Stacy Ferguson

Border Lines

Proud heritage: Thank you for exposing the border vigilantes for what they are: lawless individuals preying on paranoid Anglos and helpless, desperate poor people ["Soldiers of Misfortune," by Thomas Korosec, September 18].

As a documented ninth-generation Texan, I have ancestors who settled and suffered on this land we call Texas long before these Johnny-come-lately pieces of scum arrived. Because I proudly use my Spanish birth name and look "Hispanic," am I branded forever as someone to be hunted and terrorized?

The paranoid ranch owners bought the ranch six years ago. Mr. Foote is from Silicon Valley in California. How long have they been Texans? If they took the time to investigate their roots, they too would find immigrants in their family trees, people who came to find the American dream. What makes us so arrogant? The fact that God allowed us to be born on the "right" side of a river?

Very close to the ranch they claim, my family was forced to sell thousands of acres under eminent domain less than a decade ago. I like to think they would have been kinder to these unfortunate transients who come in a desperate search of a meager existence. So the rancher lost a chicken -- big deal! Will he still have something to eat tonight? Whose labor did he exploit to have what he has?

Diana Rendon
La Porte

Another Look

Mainstreaming: I am an HISD parent of an 11th-grade blind student who has been in the district since first grade. I strongly disagree with the article and the containment of students with visual impairments ["Blindsided," by George Flynn, August 28]. My daughter has always been in a regular education program with her braille books and support from an "itinerant" teacher of the visually impaired, and she is planning to become an attorney one day. She has to live, work and play in a world of sighted peers, and that is how we have raised her all her life. Contained classrooms do not provide enough inclusive education, so the students usually socialize with a small circle of friends who share their disability.

I think you have expressed only one side of the issue. I knew Ms. Schindler when she was a volunteer at Grady Middle School. I think you should get the big picture about "life skills" students who have limited abilities and the real story about how their needs can best be met.

Robin Charles


Add to the coverage: I love the Houston Press, but I do not love the continued lack of coverage given to the visual arts in Houston. One recent week, for example, there was nothing -- nada! The week before, a one-page art review in a 120-page newspaper.

Please realize that with more than 500 fine art galleries, schools, consultants and supply stores, and almost 50 art-related museums with hundreds of visual nonprofit organizations, and thousands of practicing artists, we have positioned ourselves into the fifth-largest nonprofit arts industry in the country. Much of the arts may be not-for-profit, but we produce more than $400 million per year in the Houston economy!

The arts are for everyone. The experience of looking at art can be exciting, sometimes controversial, beautiful, spiritual and best of all, usually free or at very low costs.

Get on the art bandwagon, Houston Press, and give the visual arts their fair share of representation.

Lester Marks

Matchstick Matches

Congratulations on your excellent review of Matchstick Men ["Con Heir," by Robert Wilonsky, September 11]. It was refreshingly, amazingly similar to one found in a recent Vanity Fair -- even down to the title.

They say great minds think alike. Or is it fools rarely differ?

John Ferguson

Off Colour

Clearing the record: This is Danny from the Colour Clear, and I wanted to correct an error that was made in our article ["Alphabet Soup," by Bob Ruggiero, August 7]. The article says that "Danny Zevallos hit the bottle heavily one night before penning the words to 'Hard to Say.' " It should have stated that it was Alex Penafiel and not Danny Zevallos who did that. Thank you so much.

Danny Zevallos

Dandy Data

Researching Warhols: The author of the article about the Dandy Warhols [Melanie Haupt, "Gilding the Lily," September 18] is clearly misinformed and uneducated. She claims that …Come Down was the album that got them noticed, when it was Dandy's Rule, OK? that produced the major-label bidding war and college radio hit "Andy's TV Theme Song."

Additionally, she claims that the new album was universally reviled by fans and critics, when Rolling Stone gave it a strong three-star review and many others have had strong reviews. As a fan since 1996, I happen to love the new album and have turned several people on to the band, and they all completely enjoyed the recent performance at the Engine Room.

So I would just ask that your writers be more informed before they try to criticize a wonderful, influential band.

Ted Steger

Great show: I feel how you felt about the Warhols' record, although upon further listening I discovered I liked it much more. Now, after seeing them perform several selections from this release, I think it's some of the best writing Taylor-Taylor has done. Those who didn't go missed their best Houston performance ever.

Parth Rana


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