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Executions Not a Problem

In regard to Rachel King's "Killing Kids" (Back Page, Dec. 8), the commonwealth of Virginia has a lot of problems; the fact that we execute murderers really isn't one of them.

I believe it was Clarence Darrow who, in the 1920s, came up with the "innocent by reason of insanity" defense. I think it would be more correct to say "guilty by reason of insanity."

If you can't trust a gay priest to rehabilitate himself, what chance is there to rehabilitate the insane or retarded? First came the insanity defense and now the retarded defense. Soon anyone who is not good at math will have a license to kill!

If 2 percent of the general population is retarded and 25 percent of the people on death row are retarded, wouldn't it be a good and proactive policy to keep a DNA file on all retarded teenagers just in case?

James Seay

Better Books

In response to Brandon Reynolds' comments in "The Last Page" (Dec. 29), I continued to be amazed at the fawning over Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code."

Two points seem obvious:

1. Has no one heard of Robert Ludlum?

2. Did anyone read Brown's "Angels & Demons," which is the much better book?

The only sequel of which I am aware that surpasses its predecessor is the New Testament.

Walter M. Pulliam Jr.

Missing Deadline, But Breaking Ground

Please allow us to clarify some facts about our project that were not reflected in the Street Talk on the First Freedom Center ("First Freedom Center to Miss 2007," Dec. 22). The focus on our "slower-than-expected fund raising" is based on earlier (and somewhat optimistic) predictions for our construction schedule. It's not so much a matter of us not making our 2007 deadline because of a lack of funds, but rather that we are now learning that this entire process takes more time than we had originally anticipated.

We are quite pleased with the support from the Richmond community to date, additional commitments continue to come in, and we are now successfully enlisting the leadership to take the campaign to a national level. Our plan is to assess the fund-raising goal relative to projections and make a decision about the allowable construction costs of the First Freedom Center sometime next fall.

At that time, we will proceed with design development, working drawings and contract negotiations, a process that could take 12 to 14 months to complete. We anticipate breaking ground in 2006, and that it will take 18 to 20 months to complete the building. So, while we will not open in 2007, we will open, and Richmond will take its place in history as the birthplace of religious liberty.

D. Stephen Elliott,
Executive Director
Laura Baliles,
Communications Director
Council for America's First Freedom

McQuinn Deserves Fund-Raising Credit

Thank you for shining a light on A.C.O.R.N.'s efforts to build a better city by promoting the preservation of its oldest neighborhoods and the unique, irreplaceable architecture within them in your "Richmonder of the Year" story about Jennie Dotts (Cover Story, Jan. 5). We at A.C.O.R.N. believe in the economic benefits of preservation and the capacity of old buildings to renew sustainable communities — which, after all, are the basis of any healthy city.

While we would like to take credit for having raised a million dollars for the East End Teen Center (as suggested in a photo caption), I must point out that Councilwoman Delores McQuinn is responsible for that. We have played a crucial role in the project, have raised and spent some money; but Ms. McQuinn deserves credit for the million dollars, which is enabling the purchase and rehab of an abandoned train station next to the historic Bojangles Robinson Theatre featured in the picture.

A.C.O.R.N. has worked closely with Ms. McQuinn and other city officials for the last three years to realize a mutual dream of converting a block of dilapidated buildings in Church Hill into a sanctuary for at-risk young people. By rehabilitating a few buildings, we — and the East End Teen Center — believe we can improve the lives of thousands of people who are afflicted by the blight surrounding them. For us at A.C.O.R.N., that sort of community uplift is what preservation is all about.

Melinda Skinner
Development Director


We published incorrect dates for the Acts of Faith theater festival (Arts & Culture, Jan. 12). The festival began Jan. 7 and runs through March 13.

Chief André Parker's interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch was October 2002, not October 1992 ("Hicks Pushes for Public Safety Director," Street Talk, Jan. 12). Style regrets the errors.

Letters to the editor may be sent to: letters@styleweekly.com

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