Page 1


“BOW” WILLIAMS When Your Home Policy Expires, Check With Us About Special Savings On Our Homeowners’ Policy GReenwood 2-0545 624 NORTH LAMAR, AUSTIN Let’s Abolish the Poll Tax! Over $133 Million n n s Fu o ra rc n e ce e9nekate/f e e4 INSURANCE COMPANY P. 0. Box 8098 Houston, Texas HAROLD E. RILEY Vice-President and Director of Agencies Match a Subscription To The Texas Observer For a Texas Library City, State Send $5 to The Texas Observer, 504 W. 24, Austin, Texas. Name Address The Passing of Emmett Earl some purple oratory from a tired man with red rimmed eyes. \(“They’re going to turn the switch on him down there at sunrise and I want to say that the blood won’t be on me. I’ve done everything I can as an officer of this Coffelt looked and sounded a man beyond exhaustiona man powered by raw emotion. The court deliberated briefly, without calling the surprise witness, and rejected the appeal. So Emmett Earl died. AS A SOCIAL PROBLEM, he is engrossing. Even a state like Arkansas, which ranks low in social services, operates a vastly complex and expensive machinery for dealing with people like Emmett Earlthe police, the courts, the prisons, the State Hospital. The son of a retired serviceman and his wife, Earl feared the dark, bit his nails, and wet the bed as a child. His behavior was odd enough that he was committed to the State Hospital for study in 1952, at about the age of 16. Psychiatrists decided that he was sane and released him after two months. Patrick J. Owens The next year he raped a Morrilton housewife. In Arkansas, sanity is legally defined as the ability to know right from wrong and to act on that knowledge. The State Hospital took a month to decide that Emmett Earl met that definition. He received a twoyear sentence, for no rational reason whatsoever. Who would argue that a terni. at Cummins Prison Farm would in any way improve a youth who was suffering with Emmett Earl’s compulsions? He served eight months, and the terms of his parole were another exercise in enlightened social practice. He was banished from Conway County, his home country. To get the parole he had to agree not to return there. The county solved its problem by moving the rapist on. EMMETT EARL joined his parents at Jacksonville, about 15 miles from Little Rock. On the night of December 23, 1955, he was cruising around the Little Rock area, looking for kicks. Finding no girls \(as he explained sonville drive-in and picked up a 14-year-old boy named Joe King. Joe had been to a movie and was hitch-hiking home. Leggett asked the boy to perform an unnatural sex act. Joe refused. Emmett Earl drove past the boy’ home, a trailer in a trailer park, and stopped the car on a wooded road. He strangled Joe King by forcing his thumbs into the boy’s adams apple, and keeping them there. He said that he had killed the boy because he was afraid of being told on. He did not want to be thought a homosexual. Later, he was to deny to officers that he was one, saying that he had never himself performed a homosexual act. Emmett Earl wasn’t picked up until the night of January 23, when he was found in the act of raping a 19-year-old girl on another wooded road not far from the scene of the strangulation. A 17-year-old sister of the girl, he was raping had been beaten and, it was charged, also raped. Emmett Earl denied that he had raped the 17-year-old. He confessed five other rapes, and then withdrew two of the confessions. Society could not evade Emmett Earl any longer, nor he society. The State Hospital once again certified him as legally sane. In June, he was tried for the murder. A jury found him guilty and he was sentenced _to death. In the summer of 1957, while the legal battle dragged along, the Menninger Foundation of Topeka, Kan., sent psychiatrists to Arkansas to examine Emmett Earl. They found him crazy. The State Hospital conducted an examination later that year and yet another in 1958. The two findings were the same as the three earlier ones: Emmett Earl was found to be sane. Emmett Earl might have been saved despite the tough luck he had trying to prove himself crazy were it not for a peculiarity of the Arkansas penal system. This. peculiarity is that it is impossible to put a felon away for life in Arkansas. One of the fruits of the state’s populist history is a system of ommutations, remissions, pardons and paroles that cuts drastically into any fixed sentence. The average lifer is said to serve less than 20 years. That was one reason for the popular support for Emmett Earl’s electrocution. It was all too easy to see him out and around on another of his sex sprees. The support was very general. The people, in their wisdom, suspected that their were flaws in the system, and that if he stayed alive Emmett Earl might sneak through yet another of them. Another Danger ALBUQUERQUE, N. M. One of the most eager states in the nation to take over control of peacetime applications of atomic energy has been Texas, according to an official of the Atomic Energy Commission here. Vincent C. Vespe, director of the compliance division of the AEC, and his team of five health physicists check licenses on a regular schedule in . Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas, and Arizona. Of the 746 licensees in this area, Texas with 454 has by far the largest amount. Next is Oklahoma with 117. Pipeline radiographers give Vespe’s inspection teams the most trouble,, he said. The radiographer most common in the Southwest is the man who follows pipeline crews as they weld together pipes. He uses an X-ray type machine to “see through” welding materials which fasten together the pipes, checking for possible breaks or weak spots before the line is buried. Pipeline radiographers are difficult to check because they usually operate away froin the home office and in remote areas hard to find. A “leak” in either the truck or source encasement can be dangerous to passersby. Many times pipeline radiographers are not properly trained in safety techniques, making their operations particularly dangerous, Vespe said. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 8 Sept. 23, 1960 MMMMMMMMMMMMM MMMMM 1111111111NR PERSONALS \(The rate for personals is 7c a word and $1 minimum per entry; for four entries, 5c a word, but Send 25c for copy of Socialist . Party platform and political realignment statement. Box 18233, Houston, Texas. mom WWWWWWWWW NINO WWWWWWW 11110111111111111111 The Really Needy Sir: Re: Willie Morris’ “Open Questions to a Governor”very good. In the argument of centralized government versus states’ rights and local self-government, proponents of the latter always portray our federal government ‘as a sinister octopus reaching out to strangle individual rights and freedoms, never as a helping hand when other help has not been forthcoming. They are always talking about rightsrarely about responsibilities of the States and localities. As one who was a social worker for six years, working with the aged and dependent and neglected children much of that time, I would be overjoyed to see the state and each Texas community shoulder the responsibility of alleviating its devastating problems of human misery. But those who vote the money, who should give their conscience and concern to these sick, starving, and maimed, like to pretend that the problems aren’t there. In most of our communities, even our so-called charity dollar goes mainly to popular middle-class services instead of to the really needy. Enlightened social workers have been pleading with people for years to recognize that welfare programs adequately staffed and financed can help people help themselves toward self-sufficiency. Yet Texas legislators have never supported real programs for rehabilitation for those who could be rehabilitated. Even under pressure, they will barely vote enough for a subsistence-dole program. Welfare programs aren’t popular with their constituents the more influential ones, that is. Like it or not, there is the other reality which communities must face: the fact that a certain percentage of the population will always be indigentunable to help themselves, dependent on the mercy of others as fellow-humans, because of permanent physical, emotional, or mental disability . The federal government has the right to be concerned about the whole body of its constituency. Nan L. Hoot, 3602 Bonnie Rd., Austin. Another ‘Ski Cat I enjoyed “The Traveling Anec dote and Racial Attitudes” by James W. Byrd in your July 8 issue very much. The anecdote about water skiing was very familiar, but the location of the incident varied somewhat from the Lake Houston, Lake Sweetwater and Galveston locations as it was told to me by various ‘persons. The anecdote has traveled far. This summer while attending Highlands University in Las Vegas, N. M., a graduate student from Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, assured me that he knows the man who took “Ski Cat” to the hospital after his accident while attempting to water ski on Lake of the Ozarks. Donald E. Marcy, 219 W. Yeso Dr., Hobbs, N. M. More Economics Sirs: Bouquets! In your speech to the college editors \(Obs. Sept. economics, which I consider to be of vital importance. Not only in the newspapers but also among the general run of college graduates, as well as those who have not been exposed to the many and varied benefits of extended higher education, a taboo has been placed on the discussion of “the dismal science.” This general area of knowledge is carefully skirted because it is controversial and because it is, allegedly, inscrutable. For these reasons I want to add my voice to yours. I heartily approve of more discussion of vital economic issues despite this being an election year when campaign politicking reduces statements on this subject to harmless generalities. As a student of economics who has accumulated a couple of degrees in this subject. I was particularly interested in your statements regarding the problems of economic deveibpment in the backward, uncommitteed areas of Asia, Africa, and South America. In this connection, what the Republicans have stigmatized as “growthmanship” is actually a real issue. The free enterprise system and socialist concepts of economic growth are competing not only in the underdeveloped countries, but also in the advanced industrial societies of the United States and the Soviet Union. This, and such questions as administered pricing in the monopolized industries of this country, etc., should be given attention ‘before, during, and after elections. Phil Barker, 2239 Mistletoe Blvd., Fort Worth. Miscellany Sirs: Keep the good work going, the country needs the Observer.Joan C. Vanderford, 1436 Clodah Dr., Corpus Christi. Sirs: Having read several of your newspapers, I would now like to subscribe, and in addition pass on my highest praise to the tremendous work you people are doing in presenting the true facts to the people of the state. Guy Watts, 505 1/2 Carancahua, Corpus Christi. Sirs: My friend .. . has shared her Observer with me, and I feel that I should subscribe for myself, so herewith is my check. I shall pass my copies on to others, too, and perhaps the good tidings that Texas has a fair and liberal newspaper will bring others into the fold. Florence W. Dies, 930 Bluebonnet Dr., Kerrville. Sirs: Universal education , would be a blessing if all publications in this country were as truthful and as original as the Observer. We are renewing our subscription with enthusiasm. Mrs. William Stavincha, 1410 12th St., Galveston. LITTLE ROCK Given the fact of capital punishment, society probably had just as, well include Emmett Earl Leggett among the fall guys, as it in fact just has. A better case could be made for the electrocution of Emmett Earl than for most who get the chair. There are those in Arkansas who say that the state’s penal and crime enforcement system made Leggett’s demise imperative. There also are cynics who describe Emmett Earl as a concatenation of social error that had to be got out of sight forever. A one-shot strangler and habitual rapist, Leggett on the loose was a mad dog. It is ironic that he made a good prisoner who was well behaved in his 41/2 . years of confinement. Everyone agreed that he was incorrigible. There was disagreement whether he was sane. Uncertainty on that point was manipulated by lawyers into eleven stays of execution and four extra years of life for Emmett Earl. His first date with the chair was in September of 1955. There is little that is instructive in the long legal campaign. Attorneys John Bailey, who started it, and Kenneth Coffelt, who took it over and kept it a going thing, wanted first of all to keep their client alive. Beyond that, they hoped for a new jury that would once again decide the sanity question. They followed the familiar pattern, moving shortly before each execution date so that it would have to be re-set after their arguments were rejected, as they invariably were. Coffelt had appealed to the United States Supreme Court four times and to the state Supreme Court five. He ran through a classic of its kind last week, appearing before a federal district judge at Little Rock Wednesday night,