Life or Death?

October 1992By Comments

GARY CARTWRIGHT’S STORY, “Free To Kill” [TM, August 1992], regarding Kenneth Allen McDuff, shows that McDuff is indeed a monster. I am profoundly sickened by the circumstances of his hideous crimes and equally appalled by our Board of Pardons and Paroles for allowing him to be freed to commit yet more heinous acts.

I have long been strongly opposed to capital punishment. Not anymore! The article made a believer out of me! My only hope is that this depraved McDuff will not be given routine appeals but that he will be put to death ASAP.
San Antonio

MR. CARTWRIGHT’S BLOODLUST for the execution of Kenneth McDuff is as sickening as the descriptions of the murders that McDuff committed. I ask you, Will the murder of Kenneth McDuff bring any one of his many victims back to life? Of course not. Nothing justifies the State of Texas’ murdering one of its citizens, especially revenge. Mr. McDuff is not a monster but a human being and a creation of God. As much as I may not like it, that means he is as worthy of life as everyone else. So let’s quit trying so hard to murder people and start trying to make life in jail mean just that—life in jail.
College Station

Murder Most Foul

IN GARY CARTWRIGHT’S “A System Gone Bad” [TM, August 1992], Jim Parker’s insensitivity is exceeded only by his ignorance when he says, “We’re jailing hot check writers and DWIs and letting out the Kenneth McDuffs.” This thoughtless remark deeply offends victims of drunk drivers and insults hot check writers.

Apparently Mr. Parker is unaware of a statistical report issued by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division, that shows that “Traffic/DWI” accounted for only 4.2 percent of the “new receives” at TDCJ in 1991. The prisons are full, but they’re not full of drunk drivers.

One drunk driver who did not overload the prison system was Kenneth Allen McDuff. On September 1, 1991, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated in Temple. He was convicted on January 3, 1992, but was placed on probation. Since the time of his arrest for DWI, he has been implicated in the deaths of four women.

I believe one of the first provisions of any parole is that the parolee commit no more crimes. Perhaps if Mr. Parker and other officials regarded DWI as the serious, violent crime that it is, McDuff would have been locked up for either violating his parole or for the DWI, and some of those women might have been spared.
Chair, Legislative Committee
Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Mr. Cartwright replies:

In his conversations with me, Jim Parker made it quite clear that he regards DWI as a serious, violent crime. He also believes that murder and armed robbery are serious, violent crimes. Mr. Lewis misses the central point of the quote and indeed of the entire article: When considering which inmates can be safely returned to society, it is a deadly mistake to lump the McDuffs with less vicious killers.

McDuff Rebuff

ENCLOSED IS A PICTURE OF ME! I noticed that you are apparently running low on appropriate faces to feature on the cover of Texas Monthly [August 1992]. I chose to remove the cover from the magazine rather than have to face a villain.
Arlington, Virginia

EVEN WITH THE WORD “monster,” it seems to glorify Kenneth McDuff to put him on the cover of such a supposedly prestigious magazine. It was shocking for me to see it and have it in my home. I just couldn’t believe you are so hard up for cover material; if it had to be a choice, why not use the victims? I am very, very disappointed with this choice.

Cool Following

I HAVE JUST RETURNED from what many of us visiting in the Davis Mountains ultimately referred to as the “Helen tour” [“So Cool,” TM, August 1992]. Out at Marfa for the lights, rocking on the porch of the Annex at the Hotel Limpia, enjoying the star party at the observatory, we all were following in her footsteps. We could tell who was using the article for a guide because someone would mention the biscuits and gravy at Indian Lodge or some other tidbit she had divulged and all heads would swing toward them and start to grin.

I was in Fort Davis long enough to have a pleasant chat with photographer Todd Jagger at his shop. I chickened out on the 2810 tour to Ruidoso. When I stopped at the Marfa Border Patrol maintenance base for directions, the guys leaned in the window and exclaimed, “You’re going to take that car on 2810?” Well, after that comment, no.

After I caught on to the Helen phenomenon, I asked a couple if they were doing the Texas Monthly tour. The young guy said that he did the same thing last year when the magazine had an article about twenty secret places in and around Texas. So we are all looking forward to next year’s tourist tips. Uh, could you send an advance copy of the article in ’93 so I don’t have to fight for reservations? Seriously, though, the information was generous enough to take literally, the research was meticulous, and the itinerary perfectly workable.

Anyway, thanks for a great article for a cool August vacation. I rarely pay attention to writers’ names on articles, but I will certainly look forward to seeing what Helen Thompson has on her mind next time.

Goode Works

THANKS FOR SUSAN CHADWICK’S article on Jim Goode [“A Goode Idea,” Business, TM, August 1992]. While the background and descriptions caught the flavor of his great restaurants, Jim’s cowboy modesty prevented him from telling the author of his generous philanthropic works. From the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the West University Little League, to local high school Future Farmers of America chapters, Jim gives a great deal—both cash and catering—to the community that made him a success. What else would you expect from a true Texan?

Reel Talent

LOUIS BLACK’S STORY ON ROBERT Rodriguez was incredible [“Sibling Revelry,” Film, TM, August 1992]. It did my heart good to read about this innovative young filmmaker. There are so many talented Hispanics like him—young and old—waiting for the chance to highlight their talents. So many waiting for the opportunity to be at the right place at the right time. I would like to congratulate Rodriguez on his new-found success.
San Antonio

Cattle Tales

JOE NICK PATOSKI’S RECENT article on the Longhorn cattle dilemma at the Big Bend Ranch was well done and made enjoyable reading [“Cattle Recall,” State Wide, TM, August 1992]. Ranching is an important part of our heritage—a heritage that should be showcased at the Big Bend Ranch. We appreciate your attention to this issue and to our area.
State Representative, District 68

THE STORY IS INCORRECT IN STATING that the Nature Conservancy has long argued against cattle grazing on public lands. The Nature Conservancy has never been anti-grazing and has not taken a stand on public-lands grazing. In fact, the Conservancy works with cattle ranchers on many of its western preserves and encourages environmentally sustainable land-use practices. If conservationists and resource users do not work hand in hand, we all lose.
Texas State Director
The Nature Conservancy
San Antonio

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