Letters from the week
of May 21 

Feature: "Dead Man," May 14

'Til Death Do They Part

Overall, Nadia Pflaum's piece on Dennis Skillicorn was a good presentation of his case and pending execution. Pflaum kept me reading; she can drive a narrative. But a lot of her writing was about what was evident, on the surface — all those death-penalty legalities and attorney maneuverings. There was little about how Skillicorn became what he was, first a drug addict accepting whatever happened around him as long as it led to another high and later embracing Good Works Christianity, not as a means of physical escape but escape nevertheless from what he had been. Paula Barr saw something in Skillicorn that bought her to him. Pflaum missed that part.

Dennis Skillicorn doesn't deserve to be put to death by the state, whether he's an honor inmate or a monster confined to solitary. Let him do his work. God knows the prison system needs someone like him.

B. Rodgers, Prairie Village

Plagued by Doubt

In 1988, my son, Richie, was kidnapped and murdered by a child molester who was never charged with the crime but went to prison for another crime. It will never be proved in court that the man committed any crime involving my son.

Paula Skillicorn, the wife of Dennis Skillicorn, the man who is to be executed on May 20, 2009, is a friend of mine. She was a crime reporter for The Kansas City Star when all this happened. She is a great lady who stood by me and my family through the whole ordeal. I trust her judgment, and if she stands by Dennis, I think there must be much good in him.

I was bitter for years, but my thinking has evolved to the point that I am opposed to the death penalty. There are just too many mistakes made. I don't blame the police or any part of the government anymore, but it took awhile to get over that.

My opinion is not based on religion, emotion, anger or vengeance. It is just not logical to me to execute someone when there is doubt. There has been enough doubt, since 1973, that 131 executions have been overturned.

Carlos Kjellander, Bartlesville, Oklahoma

We All Pay

I appreciate The Pitch's coverage of the death penalty. To kill a person guilty of a heinous crime may feed our baser urges, but at a huge financial and moral cost to society.

James A. Everett, Independence, Missouri

Feature: "East Side Promises," April 16

At the Clubs

Nadia Pflaum's article on the Boys & Girls' Clubs was amazing. I, too, am a longtime member of the Boys & Girls Clubs and have seen how good things in the community change how everything goes in the neighborhood. The Boys & Girls Clubs have been my inspiration in college. They have helped me achieve many paths without hesitation. I have lived in the 24th Street neighborhood for almost 16 years and I have seen how the neighborhood has changed since Minute Circle closed. I, too, attended Minute Circle, and they always had something going on that benefited the community. Maybe if we had something so nice in that community, it would give the kids something good to remember and look forward to if they feel like they're going down the wrong path. The Boys & Girls Clubs won't steer you wrong when you need help. They're always willing to help and make great things happen for you.

I look forward to coming back from my first year of college and visiting the East Side and Thornberry units, knowing that, other than my parents, people like Mr. Larry Lewis, Ms. Vanessa LaBarrie, Mr. Smith and Mr. Mark Trammel helped get me to where I am. They took me on the college tours and helped me plan for college. They helped me keep my head right, and I thank them for that. So I give you five stars for a great article, because these people and these children are what inspire me to do better. I hope that, as I grow, I'll learn to be in a great position as they are.

Alique Whitaker, Kansas City, Missouri

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