Lawrence Wright’s “The Case For Castration” [TM, May 1992] provides an interesting view on the issue of castration, sex offenders, available treatment, and society’s concerns about the best response to such acts of assault and violence. As the article documents, treatment of sex offenders is a recent development. In Texas, the first treatment program was institutionalized in 1986 at Giddings State School. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s institutional division started the Sex Offender Treatment Program in 1990, and it was filled to capacity in less than a year. Neither of these programs has been in place long enough to evaluate its efficacy and determine the long-term impact on the recidivism rate of juvenile and adult offenders. It is hoped that outcome studies will show that such interventions, including incarceration, intensive supervision, and further treatment, decrease the recidivism rate.

We welcome the magazine’s courage to address an issue that offers no easy solutions and few answers acceptable to all. Through such journalism, the public’s conscience and the need for current information on the treatment of sex offenders can merge to support a mandate calling for a comprehensive response from government.
Chair, Interagency Council on
Sex Offender Treatment

For the record, Dr. Paul Walker deserves credit and recognition for starting the Rosenberg Clinic treatment program, but he left Galveston in 1980. Since his departure from the University of Texas Medical Branch, the program was moved into the private sector. It has been directed for the last decade by the three authors from the UT Medical Branch cited in the article.

I believe the approach of dealing with sex offenders through the combined use of medication and psychotherapy, a treatment strategy that has been in use now for several decades, could have been expanded upon in the article. It is an approach that represents a middle ground between the extremes of no treatment and castration.
Clinical Psychologist
Program Director, Rosenberg Clinic

Russian Evolution

Jan Jarboe’s profile, “Can Bob Strauss Save Russia?” [TM, May 1992], is as good as it gets. She could not have painted a better picture of an incredibly colorful man.

Ms. Jarboe’S “Endless Winter” [TM, May 1992] is so touching. I share the sentiments that the article conveyed. In Moscow last summer I met a young mathematics teacher whose wife also taught at a high school in St. Petersburg. They were “just getting by” on about 650 rubles a month. All conversations were shrouded in gloom and pessimism. I was overwhelmed by their sad faces and expressions of doubt.

Wet and Wild

Having read David A. Anderson’s “Lakes Alive!” [TM, May 1992], I must object to the small amount of information about Lake Buchanan. There are things that perhaps you don’t know about. Did you know that the waterfall on the Hamm’s beer label is the waterfall that flows into Lake Buchanan above Tow? Or that the lake is 35 miles long and 8 miles wide? It was built by the WPA, and all the brush and trees were burned. The only thing left in the lake was a granite grain silo near Maxwell Slough.

I was disappointed not to see Canyon Lake mentioned. Just a few miles from New Braunfels, near Canyon City, Canyon Lake is a man-made lake formed by damming a valley. It feeds the Guadalupe River and is large enough for sailboats, ski boats, and fishing. It’s our favorite vacation spot in Texas.

International Charm

I spent six days in El Paso in the middle of April, enjoying a respite from the rigors of a still cold and wet Northeast. I bought a copy of the magazine in one of the Texas airports and enjoyed the issue immensely. One afternoon I visited the Ysleta mission, and I agree with Dana Rubin [“Holy Trinity,” TM, April 1992] that it has much charm. I was taken aback, however, to read that “busloads of Scandinavians” would spoil that charm. I am of Swedish descent myself, and I have found that other Scandinavian-Americans or Scandinavians I have met as fellow tourists are appreciative and well behaved. Certainly El Paso could do worse than host “busloads of Scandinavians.”
Greenwich, Connecticut

Chips off the Old Block

Paul Burka’s story on East Texas wood chips, “This Is the Alamo!” [TM, April 1992], is excellent. I grew up in Lufkin and worked out of Beaumont up into East Texas as a young man, and so I doubly appreciated it.
San Angelo

Remedial Teaching

With regard to Gregory Curtis’ “Testing Delusions” [Behind the Lines, TM, April 1992], I agree. TAAS is too easy, yet far too few students pass it. But the curriculum isn’t the culprit. What students learn is up to the group our system values least, judging by the salaries and authority we confer on them: classroom teachers. If we don’t keep potential educators out of the classroom through low salaries, we lure them into administrative jobs that pay inordinately more. Have we forgotten that every other position in schools is a recent addition intended to relieve teachers of less important tasks? Those who do stay in the classroom face unbelievable pressures. So we have teachers in every school who have no business in the job. They have learned how to be “good ol’ boys,” never take an unpopular stand, play the game, and do good paperwork. Teaching is beside the point.

I am retired after 32 years in the classroom, but this is not sour grapes. I would do it all over again.

I am grieved, however, to see so many good young people rejecting the profession. We have to find some way to get and keep good teachers in the classroom, and then to let them teach.