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Letters to the editor 

Responses to 'The Ron Paul deceit' and 'Danger zone at the Atlanta Detention Center'

Ron Paul rebuttal

Your article (Metropolis, "The Ron Paul deceit," Jan. 30) was very creative considering it held about 3 percent truth. You are lame and Atlanta, Ga., is lame if this is what comes out of this city. You think you are special 'cause you can write in a magazine? How much pressure/bribe money did you get to write this joke of an article?

Your title is a flat-out lie. You can find an explanation and an apology on his own website concerning the newsletters. Your article is so one-sided it fell off my table. You know nothing about Dr. Ron Paul. His ideas are constitutional and I would hardly call that radical. It's just this government operates against the Constitution so it looks so different when someone comes along with the truth.

Whether one is a Paul advocate or not, people should be concerned that this practice is going on.

Which candidate gets to be censored the election after next? This is not right, especially when we are supposed to be instilling the virtues of democracy elsewhere in the world. Unless you have access to the Internet you will NOT see fair appraisals of ALL the candidates. If you look to this article you really won't see a fair picture.

You need to apologize for misleading the readers concerning Dr. Paul. What do you hate about small government and freedom? You need to do more research into the issues and not pick out smear topics to serve your self-interest. Libertarianism is the anti-racist stance. Not to mention Dr. Paul is pushing for nonviolent drug crimes to not be used to keep minorities locked up in prison. The black community is being hurt by these charges. Like I said, you know nothing about Dr. Paul and to subtitle the story that he hasn't answered these charges is a flat-out lie. You can find multiple rebuttals to the claims and a five-minute interview on CNN about the whole thing. Maybe you don't like the answer but he addresses them and takes moral responsibility that they were written and he didn't know. He was delivering babies in a private practice.

– Paul Kerby, San Clemente, Calif.

In Defense of the Detention Center

I am submitting the following response to "Danger zone at the Atlanta Detention Center," (by Scott Freeman, Fallout, Jan. 30).

I am a 20.5-year veteran of the city of Atlanta Department of Corrections and I am highly disturbed by the exaggerations regarding a few incidents that have occurred lately in our facility.

First, and foremost, Sgt. Ellis Williams referenced several injuries that he has suffered throughout his career – most of which occurred more than 20 years ago before I was employed with the city and none of which have occurred within the last year. Written as it is in your article can imply that these are recent occurrences and they are not. He also referred to Chief Frank C. Sizer as unapproachable. This is simply untrue. I have never seen anyone more approachable. Chief Sizer comes in on a daily basis and manages by walking around. From day one, he has gone into that jail, talking and listening to managers, supervisors and line staff about their concerns, whether it be pay raises, staff shortages, concerns about safety or other conditions relating to the jail. He is not only visible and approachable, but he has great concern for the line staff. He repeatedly addresses the fact that he desires to reward and recognize staff. He constantly reminds managers that recognizing staff is a vital part of our job. As one who manages the Community and Public Affairs Unit for the department, I can attest to the fact that this is very important to him. We have and are implementing new programs of recognition for our employees. The problem that some staff may have with Chief Sizer is that he does not entertain foolishness. He and his Deputy Chief Priscilla Doggett are instruments who are working very hard (14-hour days, coming in on the morning watch and on weekends) to address staff issues and to oversee the assignment that has been bestowed upon them. I have seen them hold more meetings with managers, supervisors and line staff, to share their vision for corrections and to obtain feedback and input on how that can best be accomplished. Some staff – not all – are just disgruntled about a number of things.

Since Chief Sizer's arrival, overtime has been cut drastically, causing many of our staff to suffer shortages in income that was based on overtime. This took away the power for overtime to be used unnecessarily, something that I am sure that the taxpayers of the city will truly appreciate, since their tax dollars are being spent more wisely. That should show that Corrections is taking measures to prove that we are good stewards of the funds that have been allocated to this department. Yes, there are times when staff shortages may call for the use of overtime, but only after every other measure has been addressed. In your article, these elements are missing from the equation.

All in all, this article greatly distorts the truth about what is going on in our department. If we are concerned about rising tensions, we should come to work, help recruit staff and get over the fact that the cheese has been moved. However, I do agree with staff when it comes to the fact that the corrections profession is often misunderstood, if understood at all. The work that we do is just as important as that of other public safety personnel, many of which would not work in this environment. Other agencies may be performing highly visible levels of heroic public safety work, however, if the correctional officer were not in place to keep those who are arrested "behind the walls," exposing themselves to who knows what kind of diseases and then maybe even taking that home to family members, other public safety agencies' work would be in vain. We are the silent heroes in public safety, performing a vital work for the citizens of the city of Atlanta. The correctional officer is a counselor for the alcoholic and drug-addicted; they have been the medic for the female who gave birth before she could leave the jail or the detainee who has seizures; they are the psychiatrist for the mentally ill, the grocery store and food-service worker for those needing nourishment and a helping hand to those who are just in need. Many have stated that we (the corrections professional) are only doing our job, but isn't that what all of us in public safety are doing?

I applaud the efforts of Chief Frank C. Sizer and Deputy Chief Priscilla Doggett, who have come to us eager to share their knowledge and expertise to move us forward to the next level in corrections – obtaining accreditation. We all share in the concern to work in an environment that is safe for all employees, but we must realize that it is probably more unsafe to keep airing these issues in the news media. I call upon my colleagues to pull together for the good of the agency, for the good of the city of Atlanta, and for the good of the citizens in this great city where we serve.

Gayle Middlebrook, Atlanta

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