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bully into a sadistic killer. A year later he threatened some teen-agers with a knife, and was sent back to prison for violating his parole. Again through luck and influence, two months later his parole was reinstated. In 1991 he was arrested for D.W.I., yet another parole violation but because the prisons were still overcrowded, he was simply placed on probation. When McDuff was finally captured and sentenced to death for the murders of Melissa Northrup and Colleen Reed, the public was so outraged over the saga of his manipulations of the criminal justice system they demanded some real changes, and were willing to pay for them. The author sums it up: “He was more than just another serial killer. Kenneth McDuff’s murderous rampage, from 1989 to his arrest in 1992, brought about large changes in the Texas criminal justice system. More significantly, he attached powerful images to the argument that helped the public overcome a conservative political tide to fund a massive expansion of state government. Arguably, the Ruiz lawsuit brought to the forefront the inadequacies of Texas prisons, but it was not until the Kenneth McDuff murders that Texas government, and the people, chose prison construction and increased government spending over massive paroles.” It’s almost, but not quite, a paradox: that the explosion of prison construction in Texas can be seen as a reaction against a conservative political atmosphere because prisons are very expensive. The new prison construction was accompanied by changes in the law relating to parole, now collectively referred to as the “McDuff Laws.” One of these is that a defendant who gets a life sentence for capital murder must serve a minimum of forty years before being considered for parole. Another is that paroles for serious offenses now require the approval of two-thirds of the entire eighteen-member Board of Pardons and Paroles, instead of a three-member panel like the one that released McDuff. Lavergne’s lucid, very readable, and thoroughly researched book remains marred by some thorny flaws. Lavergne puts forth some extremely sim plistic and unsupported opinions, for exam ple, about Judge William Wayne Justice’s rulings. He writes, “And so, an unelected federal judge seized a prison system and placed the rights of prisoners above the safety of the public.” Without so much as a paragraph to support this assertion, he goes on to lay McDuff’s parole at the door of the Federal court. It is certainly true that McDuff was paroled at a time when the Texas Department of Corrections was releasing large numbers of inmates in order to be in compliance with court rulings but the T.D.C. was not required to release violent murderers. McDuff’s repeated parole was a gross error of judgment, not something ordered by the court. Lavergne’s book is also marred by an excessive and sometimes melodramatic reverence for the federal marshals, Texas Rangers, police detectives, and prosecutors who were involved in the capture and prosecution of McDuff. Here he describes Deputy U.S. Marshal Parnall McNamara driving home while thinking about Colleen Reed: “The ‘spiritual descendant of an unforgiving school of lawmen’ could not help but fear for the women at home he worshiped more than life itself. And the man of stone began to weep.” His awestruck reverence for law officers interferes with Lavergne’s telling the whole story, for he is defensive in warding off any possible criticism of law enforcement’s dealings with McDuff, even as his execution approached this year and he was telling authorities where his victims had been buried. As a consequence, Lavergne evades an important issue. If this was indeed as it seems, McDuff’s last-gasp attempt at manipulating the system, then the author is obligated to explore the possibility that the same charges might be made against those who negotiated this deal as he makes against those who once paroled McDuff. Despite its flaws, Bad Boy From Rosebud is the best kind of true crime writing. It tells a ripping good story and also addresses larger issues. And it presents a devilish dilemma for those of us who oppose capital punishment: the same system we don’t trust to administer the death penalty fairly, can’t be trusted not to, either. Austin writer Mary Willis Walker is the author of several novels, including The Red Scream, based in part on the criminal career of Henry Lee Lucas. “Dialogue,” from page 2 Force proved to the world that our stealth aircraft are currently the best in the world, and we should keep it that way. The best way to achieve real arms reduction is to retire the old equipment when new equipment becomes available, rather than sell it all off to third world pestholes ruled by inhuman, bloodthirsty dictators. However, if Professor Galbraith wishes to halt foolish spending on wasteful military equipment, I would direct his attention to the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, our newest multi-zillion dollar aircraft carrier. This ship can not defend itself from a forty-year old diesel electric submarine, the likes of which Russia has sold to almost all the outlaw terrorist nations…. Another place to cut arms spending is to get rid of the large armored and mechanized divisions and stay strictly with light infantry, and air mobile units…. Yes, let’s reduce arms, and arms spending, but cutting the F-22 is not the way to do that…. Please don’t use Republican sour grapes to define a sane defense policy…. Michael R. “Mike” Morrin Via internet RECONSIDERING WACO The media has an opportunity to redeem itself on Waco if it will ask the right questions this The right questions are: Why were armored vehicles and tear-gas grenades used on a building full of women and children? Who made that decision and when will that individual be called to account? . Since two A.T.F. agents and David Koresh went target shooting together at Mount Carmel just nine days before the military attack on Mount Carmel, why was the initial military attack ordered? You can see the A.T.F.’s memo documenting this on Attorney David Hardy’s webpage If the media allows the Congressional hearings to focus primarily on what types of teargas grenades were used, and who started the fires, then these new hearings will simply be a continuation of the six years of cover-up. Mike Ford Austin ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 512-453-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip OCTOBER 1, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29