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Streetlights: Illuminating The Way

November 10, 1996

We who grow weary every time we watch the news are heartened to learn that some gang members are getting a chance to change ("Can Hollywood Save Crazy Ace?" by Celeste Fremon, Oct. 6). I commend the Streetlights people for the positive impact they've had on many young lives, and I wish Robert "Crazy Ace" Leon the best of luck.

April Henderson

Huntington Beach

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My hat is off to Dorothy Balsis Thompson and others who've had the guts to offer gainful employment to these tough young adults. Leon, happily, is a special case: He doesn't carry a chip on his shoulder. This guy wants to earn a living.

One reason programs like Streetlights face opposition is that many young people from middle-income families are having difficulty finding work nowadays. And who, some ask, is looking out for them? Some may feel that the film industry is giving criminally inclined individuals a break that only "good kids" deserve.

We must remember that even the hard cases are somebody's children, too. Sure, their values may have suffered because of unstable or dysfunctional families. But give these young people a sense of value and they just may make up for their past indiscretions. They may even become law-abiding citizens, raise families and even learn to appreciate police officers--because those officers, down the line, may protect their kids from drug pushers and gangs.

Ariane Chicles

West Los Angeles

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Thompson would do well to use her energies to help the thousands of young people who have faced the same challenges as Robert Leon yet have never resorted to shooting, robbing and gangbanging.

Streetlights, no matter how well-intended, is not commendable if it serves to glorify criminal types over those who pursue the much tougher challenge of social responsibility.

Marsha Molinari

North Hollywood

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Congratulations to the movie industry and the woman who started this program. They are truly reinforcing the backbone of America.

Rehabilitation, schooling and training for ex-convicts are of the utmost importance. We must find a way to fund this kind of activity and encourage these people to seek productive lives.

Our children need to see more articles of this caliber: words that show there's really a chance for them out there--that the still-accessible American Dream is not the one about gold lining the streets but about the ability to earn a decent living, have food on your table, educate your children and enjoy life because you have earned that right.

Paula Garcia

Buena Park

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Those who have behavior problems and are poor can be in for a rough life. To help people change their lives, the root of their problems--what causes them to act the way they do--has to be determined.

I'm neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, but I am the mother of two children who have had behavior problems; thus I can identify with such challenges. However, I am fortunate enough to live in a middle-class neighborhood, and I'm financially able to afford the expertise of professionals who can treat my children.

There are treatments with a high success rate out there--without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Such therapy is very expensive, and few are aware that it exists, but it should be sought out.

Laura Morrow

Huntington Beach

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