Letters from the Issue of March 15, 2007

"Your excellent article exposed the ugly truth."

Things Aren't What They Seem

Follow the law: I am writing this as a rebuttal to your outrageous, prejudicial, and negatively spun article "South Beach Menace" by Francisco Alvarado (March 8). It is unfortunate that you have such a skewed perception of the criminal justice system.

Yes, I would agree that in Miami, crime is a major problem, especially in lower-income areas. However I disagree with your negative assessment of the assistant state attorneys and law enforcement officers assigned to handle the criminal cases you report about in your articles.

The system, although imperfect, does work. If a criminal defendant is initially charged with a high offense at the time of arraignment, and then that is reduced to a lesser charge, rest assured that there is a reason behind that decision. It should not reflect poorly on that individual assistant state attorney's capacity. What many people do not understand is that each defendant's case and each victim's rights are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Many times cases that appear to be "slam dunk" guilty from the onset rapidly deteriorate as victims "disappear" and witnesses suddenly become "unavailable."

Additionally one must keep in mind that each defendant has the constitutional right to a fair and impartial trial and the opportunity to claim a defense. This right, passed down by our founding fathers, must not be disturbed.

I suggest that before you choose to write an article regarding criminal law and your perceived lack of justice, you take a step back and analyze the case. Things are not always what they appear.

JV

South Miami

The Ugly Truth

Some sex offenders are okay: As the wife of a registered sex offender, I wanted to thank you for an excellent article that tells the truth about residency restrictions, "Swept Under the Bridge" (March 8) by Isaiah Thompson. Some comments:

1. Most state and local residency restrictions apply to allregistered sex offenders, not just to "convicted" sex offenders (many people on the sex offender registry have had adjudication withheld and were never convicted of anything).

2. In Florida, offenses that will place a person on the registry include (a) "Romeo & Juliet" offenses, in which one partner is eighteen years old and the other is a minor, (b) urination behind a tree or in an alley (which is considered public exposure of sexual organs), and (c) inadvertent viewing of child pornography in which the "perpetrator" views or receives an entire package of pornographic images, some of which include minors of which the "perpetrator" is unaware until it is too late. In fact, one person on the registry is a man who grabbed a twelve-year-old girl's arm after she ran in front of his moving car in order to admonish her to be more careful — yes, that actually happened.

3. Many people on the sex offender registry were actually not found guilty of the crime for which they were charged (false accusations are common) but accepted a plea agreement. Some of these same people (my husband included) were not told that registering as a sex offender was a requirement of the agreement until aftersigning it.

Your excellent article exposed the ugly truth for what it is. I pray that the citizens of Miami will rise up in outrage, for no human — no matter his sin — should be treated in the manner in which these men were treated.

Allison Metcalf

Ocala

Taser Talk

Fire the trigger-happy ones: In reference to "Unfriendly Fire" (March 1) by Rob Jordan: Police are responsible for 220 Taser deaths? It has been reported that stimulant drugs make one more susceptible to Taser death. The use of Tasers must end.

Also police should be routinely screened for drug use, especially for steroids. Legal or illegal, steroids have been shown to be the cause of aggression in many users.

Police Chief John Timoney and his men and women who are abusive should be fired for being a public nuisance, as should any officers and their superiors who abuse or condone the abuse of power of law enforcement.

David Melvin Thornburgh

Miami Beach

New Jersey Done it

Look out, boys: In "Cage Rage" (February 22) by Joanne Green, the writer stated: "But the organization had caught the eye of three Las Vegas friends [who] bought the company for $2000. Soon they added regulations (no groin shots or head butts, no eye gouging or striking to the back of the head or spine), timed five-minute rounds (three for regular fights, five for title bouts), and weight classes. New Jersey legalized the sport in 2000, Nevada in 2001, and Florida in April 2002. They did everything we asked them to do,' says Marc Ratner, former executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission."

I am the counsel to the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. I wish to thank the Miami New Times for covering this great sport. I do have an issue, though, with the omission of the role that the State of New Jersey and its State Athletic Control Board (SACB) played in the development of today's mixed martial arts events, and most importantly, the blatant errors made in the reporting that "they" added regulations.

In fact New Jersey implemented the more stringent safety measures and rules, which other state commissions then adopted, and the new owners simply followed those rules to be able to stage a sanctioned event anywhere in the United States.

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