I read with horror the article "Retarded Convict Will Not Be Jailed" [Metro, June 12]. DeWitt Stith, 52, a mentally retarded sex pervert, grew up in the District's asylum, Forest Haven. When it closed, he was assigned to various group homes. Mr. Stith managed to "fake" seizures to obtain hospitalization. He was known to have committed violent acts toward others -- all under supervision. When Mr. Stith escaped in January while being transported to a job he didn't like (under supervision), he sexually assaulted and raped a 12-year-old District boy.
The D.C. court ordered Mr. Stith held for trial without bond on grounds that he posed a threat to the community. However, a mental health panel in May "deemed him incompetent to stand trial and unlikely to become competent," which under D.C. law would allow him to be freed.
Mr. Stith has been freed and placed once again in a group home under 24-hour supervision. "There will be someone assigned to him every minute," stated Madelyn Andrews, D.C. Department of Health spokesperson, but at what cost to the taxpayers? Watching one person "every minute" is almost impossible. The system is already straining at the seams and poorly managed. Public defender Laura Rose stated that "by virtue of [Mr. Stith's] limitations, he's without understanding or knowledge to limit his own actions. That type of dangerousness does not require force to restrict it. It requires supervision." Does anyone care about the rights of the citizens and one small boy?
Who is to blame for the rape of that 12-year-old? The court system? The lagging D.C. Council for not acting upon changes in the law as proposed by the U.S. attorney's office? Former U.S. attorney Eric Holder's office, which seemed to let the legal matters slide? Or all of the above?
We must learn that not all mentally retarded persons can be mainstreamed into society. Mr. Stith is never going to be rehabilitated. He should be locked away, and he should not be placed in yet another group home.
LINDA C. GOLDSTEIN