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Armando C. Hernandez for most of the past half-century. Each year approximately 20,000 people take their own lives. It should be pointed out that in a five-year period, three individuals have taken their own lives while in the Texas Department of Corrections. Year Population Suicides 1964 12,104 0 1965 12,753 1 1966 12,620 0 1967 12,571 0 1968 12,277 0 1969 12,660 2 In a normal population of 12,000-plus individuals, the incidence of suicide would be much higher than the existing incidence in the Texas Department of Corrections. Moreover, our population is not a normal population. The men who come to our gates are society’s rejects those individuals who would be considered social institutional failures. For instance, in our population of 12,600, 85% are school dropouts, .65% come from broken homes, 18% are illiterate on arrival, 20% are mentally retarded, 5% are psychotics. In recognition of this singular population, the Legislature has been intelligently responsible and generous in appropriating funds for an effective rehabilitation program. The quote of the New York state senator regarding “the tremendous breakdown in our prison system,” does disturb me. It should be forcefully pointed out that the Texas Department of Corrections, or any prison system for that matter, receives the end product of the criminal justice system. Only after other social institutions and agencies have usually failed does a prison system receive a man. Armando Hernandez was apparently exposed to the influences of the home, the church, the school, and juvenile agencies. In spite of these influences, the young man was not prevented from engaging in deviant behavior. For that reason, one of my colleagues suggested that the manuscript could well be directed to the El Paso community rather’ than to the Department of Corrections. I would be pleased to have Mr. Rechy visit the department for the purpose of determining how much the people of Texas, through their legislators, are spending in enlightened and imaginative programs for the purpose of rehabilitating men who have fallen afoul of the law. DR. GEORGE BETO, director, Texas Dept. of Corrections, Huntsville, Tex. 77340. Rechy’s Response Mr. Rechy replies to Dr. Be to: Too bad Dr. Beto has chosen to take the ample time required to quote generalities about suicide but has found, in his own word, the answering of the particulars in my article “futile.” Thus each of the many questions raised by the death .of Armando Hernandez remains unanswered. An additional point: Since Armando was exposed to the “enlightened and imaginative programs” for rehabilitation which Dr. Beto applauds, on that score, too, Huntsville must share the failure Dr. Beto attributes, quite correctly, to “the criminal justice system” and to “other social institutions and agencies.” Precisely: All along the line punishment assumes the form of vengeance rather than rehabilitation. I would further point out that Dr. Karl Menninger, whom Dr. Beto quotes on suicide, is the author of the book The Crime of Punishment, whose title describes its disturbing thesis. I welcome Dr. Beto’s invitation to me to visit the department, and I hope he will allow me to view the solitary-confinement unit in which the 23-year-old Armando died. Chicanos Walk Out in Abilene Abilene More than 700 Mexican-American students showed their contempt for what they regard as an unjust and discriminatory educational system by recently conducting a nine-day boycott of the Abilene schools perhaps the longest walkout in the history of U.S. student protest. The young Zapatistas were not the hard-core, embittered social changers, not the “power” students, nor the defeated, disillusioned young men and women who simply lash out at society out of discontent with themselves. No. These were young boys and girls who felt their dignity and self-respect had been ruthlessly attacked in their schools. After years of oppression and overt discrimination aimed at them and their Mr. De Leon is the editor of La Voz De Los Llanos, a Spanish-language weekly at Lubbock. He personally viewed many of the activities of the Abilene student strike and interviewed many of the participants. 4 The Texas Observer families by Anglos in this basically conservative town that is 10% chicano, the brown young acted as a single unit to serve notice that they feel it is time, at last, for freedom and equality. The walkout was triggered by an Nephtali De Leon incident at Franklin Junior High School. An Anglo-American cheerleader stated that Mexican-Americans should not be included in skits designed to stir school spirit because the brown students are “dumb and ignorant.” When two Mexican-American students protested, they were promptly suspended from classes for being “troublemakers.” The Anglo cheerleader was not reprimanded for voicing a racial slur. The incident set off a chain reaction that caused most Mexican-American students in three junior highs and one senior high to boycott school. The incident itself was not the cause of the walkout; it was simply the spark that set aglow the long-smoldering resentment chicanos here have felt about their treatment at the hands of the Anglo majority. The student strikers cited a few of what they say are many injustices and indignities practiced against them in Abilene schools: A physical education teacher \(who no chicano students by saying, whenever they spoke in Spanish, “Cut out the monkey talk.” This caused many Anglo students to make fun of the victims. A brown student was accused by his principal of having a venereal disease. The teenager took credentials from a reputable physician attesting that the student had never had such a disease, but the evidence was not heeded. The student and his mother decided that the student, under those circumstances, would not attend such a school. He has been out of school for two years now. Another student was suspended because he stood up and said, in response to the Anglo cheerleader’s remark against chicanos, that “Mexicans are the greatest.” Carl Cheatam, principal of Franklin. Junior High, said the boy was suspended because