Stuck in Squalor
Landlocked: You make a lot of good points in your article ("This Teardown Town," by Robert Wilonsky, June 9). I have tried in the past to acquire a city-owned unsound structure in South Dallas with unpleasant results.
Also, there are some people willing to build in South Dallas. The house at 2720 South Blvd. has been constructed in the past year and is a beautiful home built within the neighborhood's historical charter. The owners were able to build that house just fine without a ton of burglaries.
In every major city except for Dallas, developers have built a ton of brand-new houses as well as done countless renovations. Other cities have the same problems in run-down neighborhoods such as theft, crime and the like, and seem to do just fine. If Harlem in New York City, Southwest Atlanta and Logan Circle (Washington, D.C.) can make a comeback, why can't South Dallas?
To me, there are many factors. The city of Dallas, Southfair CDC, ICDC, Gateway, The Dallas Black Chamber and others are holding the neighborhood hostage by holding onto land plots for years and not developing them. Because of that, nobody wants to rehab other buildings because they're surrounded by vacant lots that attract vagrants. Do you really expect the Topletz family to do something about a building? Ha ha ha--they're part of the problem. The only reason they're still in business is because of flawed prosecution and technicalities.
The fact is, most people in the city would rather build string bridges over the Trinity Sewer (I mean River) and give away city tax dollars to fancy arts district projects that serve as tax shelters for Park Cities Bubble-ites and the Preston Hollow elite instead of investing in our city's neighborhoods. Until that day comes and the mentality of the mayor and some of our city council members changes, you will see more of the same.
Inspecting the inspectors: Finally hell has frozen over, and someone has finally told the truth about the code department's director, Kathleen Davis, and the fake numbers game the code department has been playing for years. I know and all of us "inspectors" who have suffered horrendous career damage know firsthand how right on the "Kick Down" story is (by Jim Schutze, June 9).
It's a shame the truth was not told sooner, but knowing how the city forbids any "inspector" from speaking to the news media, it's no wonder. The city has ways of dealing with those who have the nerve to share the truth with the public.
The mayor and Davis have led the public like sheep to slaughter. No one even questioned. How is it possible to have that many dishonest employees? It defies all logic and reasoning to swallow the political bait that the mayor and Davis are feeding the public. To ask Davis and Miller to explain what happened to the citation numbers was like asking the fox to explain what happened to the chickens.
The city council has a big job to do, but they keep asking people like Davis instead of the people who actually do the job--the inspectors. Davis just tells them what they want to hear: numbers. It is management and upper management who have led the way to a dysfunctional numbers system. The directive is to produce numbers, not actual product. The city wants City Hall to be held accountable--except management and administration; they're safe if they push the political agenda of Miller.
The code inspectors were politically assassinated. The citizens of Dallas are the biggest losers of all. They lost the most experienced and capable inspectors while being fed a bunch of numbers instead of actual results in their neighborhoods.
Thank you very much for telling the truth and telling our (the inspectors') side of the story.
Sex Crime Myths
Treatment works: I have heard insanity defined as expecting the outcome to change without changing the input. Tougher sex offender legislation may make you feel good, but it is based on misinformation and rage and fails to address empirically demonstrated psychological factors and failures of our criminal justice system that directly contribute to convicted sex offenders kidnapping, sexually abusing and murdering children.
The U.S. Department of Justice sponsors a Web site, www.csom.org, as does the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, at www.atsa.com, that presents a wealth of factual information on sex offenders. Both present empirical evidence to dispel the myth that all sex offenders repeat their crime and that psychological treatment is ineffective. The truth is that without treatment, less than 15 percent repeat, and treatment is effective to reduce that by half or more.
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Increasing the length of prison sentences is the wrong answer, because the external controls of prison life have been shown to suppress the internal controls the offender needs to keep from re-offending after they are released. The best answer is to provide psychological treatment in prison--Jackson County, Oregon, conducted a study of such a program that resulted in only one of 170 treated sex offenders being arrested for a sex-related crime over a 10-year period.
Once the media and legislators quit propagating myths about sex offenders and society knows the truth, there will be support for this type of program. There will also be support for research that will improve the effectiveness of treatment and identification of risk factors. If we don't, new laws will not change the outcome: There will be more children psychologically injured from sexual abuse, and there will be more funerals.