Mr. Curtain,

Your latest editorial entitled "Toughening Parole," along with a news reporter the other day stating that most prisoner's proclaim innocence, sparked me to write this even though I know it puts me in peril of my next and third parole hearing. I'm challenging the Dispatch to look at the other side of your column and inviting you to summarize this as you wish.

For the most part, prisoners recognize the tough job that the parole board has. We look at the recent "super flops" as an honest reflection of what they want out of us. Getting ten years is much easier to deal with than getting one's hopes up with getting 4 years, followed by 2, then 1, and at a fourth hearing getting 5. This happens more than most would think and it's cruel to be treated this way.

Alan Johnson reported that 37.5% of parolees return to prison after having committed, been prosecuted and convicted of new crimes. THIS IS NOT ACCURATE!!! The Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections own 1995 study of those released on parole in 1989 stated that of 3576 people paroled that 1610 were returned to prison. Of those 1610, 45.8% were returned for "technical" violations. As a matter of FACT, only 37.8% of those 1610 returned were convicted of new crimes. Doesn't that make you wonder why more were returned for such things for improper reporting to their parole officers or motor vehicle violations? And to say that the other 62%, as reported by Johnson, probably committed crimes that they were not caught for is very irresponsible reporting by this paper.

Then you got into Senate Bill 2 and mentioned "bad time" for misbehaving in prison? I strongly suggest that you get someone to read and explain 2967.11 of the Ohio Revised Code to you and you'll learn that you have been duped by the legislators. It states that a prisoner may be given "bad time" for a "violation" and defines it as "an act that is a criminal offense under the law of this state or the United States, whether or not a person is prosecuted for the commission of the offense." Under the new laws men will come to prison with a release date, they have no obligations to get into any programs, they can act a pure fool violating all the rules they want and WILL NOT get one day of bad time.

All we "old timers" want is fairness. If there is to be truth in sentencing, then let it be for all. How can you tell me I don't deserve to be released when I am into year ten for 1 count of Burglary? Had I committed the same act today, I would be looking at as little as 2 years and the maximum of 7, yet I have nearly 10 years in. And I still have to see the parole board with no promise for release regardless of how well I behave. If my case isn't enough, then please look at the enclosed paper clippings, many from your own paper. Now, tell me -- would you say that 3 years is enough for a person that rapes a boy at the local YMCA? 6, 7, 8 years for a "home-invasion" and killing the person who lived there? 6 years for raping a 9 MONTH old baby? How does the Columbus police officer, Mark Ely, feel after learning his assailant will only do an extra 1 year for destroying his career? Even Ohio's own prosecutors are calling for clarification of these new sentencing guidelines.

So now I have provided documented proof that Ohioans have no idea what is really happening in their justice system except that it costs them a lot of money. Meanwhile, the programs at their children's schools continue to be cut. WHY? Apparently, now to insure the Parole Board and the monster of the DRC of their jobs for a long and prosperous future.

I seriously doubt you'll print any part of this, but that is okay too, because I KNOW the people of FAMILIES AGAINST DISPARATE SENTENCES will have no problem placing this on their web site, matter of fact, two web sites with nearly 1,000,000 subscribers. I'm held accountable for my writings, so why shouldn't our politicians and media agencies be looked at in the same way?

If you really want the truth, then why don't you come and talk to a few of us with 10, 20, 30 years under our belts? Be responsible for what you write. GET BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY.

Respectfully submitted,
Norman Van Tenney, 3 Sept. 1997
Box 7010, 5-A
Chillicothe, OH 45601

The opinions expressed by this prisoner
are his own and do not necessarily reflect
the opinions of this site editor.

WE are FADS.
WE shall remain in force until the CHANGES we seek are Accomplished.