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Body Donors Intended to Aid Public Institution

March 15, 2004

My response to the question "Why all the fuss about the UCLA cadavers?" (letter, March 11) is that if my parents had wanted their bodies to go to some private institution they would have willed them to one. Their bodies were willed to UCLA because it is a public institution. The financial resources of public institutions are limited. They hoped to help a public institution have access to cadavers that might otherwise be too costly. Had UCLA seen fit to send their parts to some other public research facility I doubt they would have minded. They might not have minded if UCLA had benefited financially from what very likely did happen to their remains. They certainly would have objected to some UCLA employee benefiting financially.

Dawn Sharp


Stephen Giegerich's "Body of Knowledge Bound by Sacred Trust" (Commentary, March 11) began with an account of a medical student performing a circumcision on her cadaver. I am having trouble understanding why this was considered such an outrage. Perhaps an instructor could have illuminated the endeavor more. However, the student was not defiling her cadaver; actually, she was allowing it (a la Giegerich) to be her teacher yet again.

Sara Epstein MD

Los Angeles


Don't Blame the Guards

The Times unfairly castigates prison guards in its March 10 editorial when it says, "No other California union's success for its members has been so disastrous to public safety ... the adult system has perhaps the nation's worst recidivism rate."

Recidivism is mainly a function of length of sentence. It is partly a function of prison crowding. Sentences are getting longer in California, and the prisons are getting more crowded. We need to increase the scope of community programs to stop criminality before it starts. Let's not blame the guards for our failure to adopt progressive methods for nipping crime in the bud.

Jerrold Cohen

Seal Beach


Unequal Punishment

Re "Woman Gets 6-Month Jail Term in Boys' Heat Deaths," March 10: A white university professor in Irvine inadvertently left his child in a hot automobile last August and the child died. That, according to officials, was an accident, and the professor was not charged with a crime. An African American woman in Lancaster inadvertently left her two foster children in a hot automobile and the children died. That was deemed a crime and the woman must serve six months in jail, plus a lengthy probation.

It seems that ranking near the bottom in education is not the only thing that Mississippi and California have in common.

Jim Roberson


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