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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 30, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas Page HERALDZEITUNG Sunday July 1A punishment has been abolished or never existed in modern times Brigitte Cantu was 37 when she met her 30yearold death row husband through a fairly typ r ical route a pen pals service L that matches inmates with sym pathetic letterwriters I wrote other pen pals Brigitte Cantu said in a telephone fiiterview from her Munich home But with Domingo it was just a better feeling It was more like a The letter writing began nearly 10 years after Cantu was sent to death row for the June 25 1988 brutal sexual assault and murder of Suda Eller Jones at 94 one of the oldest capital murder victims in history He Cantu was a good per son Brigitte Cantu said He changed a Brigitte Cantu who has an 18 cyearold son and 5yearold daughter by two previous mar riages neither to said she visited two other inmates one in Texas and one in Mississippi before deciding on Domingo Cantu in November 1998 After the marriage Brigitte Cantu said she flew to Texas every three months visiting Cantu each time for eight hours during two days Its all a good memo ry We got along very well at all Brigitte Cantu speaking about her husband Domingo Cantu Jr Its all a good Brigitte Cantu said We got along very well at all Larry Todd a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said the prison system allowed death row visits by family members and spiritual advisers All visitations must be approved by the Todd said and the spiritual adviser must be a legitimate religious adviser We limit the time unless theres an execution date set When that happens we are more lenient with Even with a date inmates and visitors must follow the rules or the inmate risks losing visitation privileges No hugs no Todd said These are noncontact vis David Sergi a San Marcos defense attorney who represented Cantu on appeal of DNA evi dence said Brigitte Cantu seemed like a nice enough But he contends that a cottage industry on the fringe of Texas capital punishment is feeding off foreign nationals like her Those of us who do this work get beat up on all Sergi said Then there are people on the side who are taking advan Other skeptics have expressed concern that the women them selves are working angles that allow them to capitalize on Social Security survivor benefits once the inmates are executed Although the government has no method for tracking those cases a benefits counselor said the money spent on such noncit izen benefits would be minuscule because most death row inmates do not contribute enough to qual ify their survivors for substantial benefits And few death row wid ows move to this country to assume citizenship Ninfa Fuentes Walker Countys chief deputy clerk said marrying an inmate involves the simple process of obtaining a notarized affidavit from the inmate agreeing to the union If the prison warden approves and he usually does the bride can file the affidavit in the clerks office and secure a proxy marriage license Fuentes said her office with jurisdiction over several state prison units around the county seat of Huntsville handles about 30 proxy marriage licenses per year But because the licenses only list the prison unit deter mining how many of those involve death row inmates would be impossible Calculating the number of death row marriages also is com plicated by the fact that prospec tive spouses can obtain proxy statements and licenses from nearly any county clerk in the United States Although TDCJ officials do not keep count of proxy mar riages death row chaplain Jim Brazzil said between 15 and 20 percent of the more than 120 executed since 1982 were involved in such relationships Most of them spouses are from said Brazzil who once preached at Bulverde Baptist Church but turned to prison work after a 1992 mission trip to the Ukraine They are adamant in their and they consider the inmates martyrs They show a lot of com passion and send them Recently Brazzil said a death row widow began writing inti mately to another inmate If they marry the widow will become the first repeat spouse on the row Brigitte Cantu said she had no desire to pursue another prison relationship I promised she said I wont do it Most inmates meet the future proxy brides through networks that facilitate communication through email Web pages and regular mail Texas death row inmates are not permitted the use of the World Wide Web or email but many have proxy supporters on the outside that set up Web pages or post their names and addresses on centralized sites Todd said technology and the publics curiosity were creating increased interest in the seven female death row inmates in Texas On some Web sites men seeking a female death row pen pal can find pictures and brief bios of the women Most death row marriages end 1A es which were approved but have not been received We have enough buses for the routes right now but were going to be hurting when we have field trips because were going to have to pull them out of the Franklin said With the eight additional buses CISD will have a fleet of 147 bus es and will need about 114 drivers for those buses We plan to have a full set of dri vers by the time school Franklin said The shortage of bus drivers is more than just a local problem Banners arid advertisements for bus drivers are popping up in sur rounding counties including Hays County and across the state Everybody is feeling the Franklin said Gary Schlather transportation and safety director for New Braun fels Independent School District said the department needed two more drivers for regular bus routes before school starts Aug 23 Both Schlather and Franklin said bringing in new drivers was difficult when other fulltime jobs many with better pay were available There is still a lot of opportuni ty out there if somebody wants to Schlather said Franklin said Its a killer If every transportation department in Texas could offer fulltime eight hour jobs we wouldnt have a prob Typically bus drivers work either four and a half to five and a half hours per day But because drivers must work a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the afternoon it is difficult to find another parttime job to fit within that schedule Franklin said The need for more drivers in CISD stemmed from growth in the county which prompted more bus routes Frankin said Bus drivers also are leaving the department for fulltime jobs Theyre taking fulltime eight hour he said Theyre all looking for fulltime jobs and if they can find them they move But Franklin said applications this year seemed to be picking up compared to the same time this past year It seems to be loosening up this he said Weve had more applicants coming in than any year in the past when the market has been good for Franklin credited the recent inter est in bus driving jobs to a pay increase approved this past year Starting pay for bus drivers in CISD is per hour I think thats why a lot of people have been coming in Weve gotten people from Seguin San Marcos and San Antonio who have heard about he said I think thats one advantage we have right Schlather said recruiting drivers at NBISD was difficult because of higher wages at surrounding school districts We are competition with other school districts many of them with higher starting Schlather said But I think we have a good work ing environment here and I think that has allowed us to keep up in the job NBISD is the same as this past year but the board approved pay raises for current bus drivers Schlather said bus drivers who were with the district this past year and returned with at least a half a year of experience got a 19cent an hour raise NBISD needs 37 drivers to man about 30 regular bus routes and seven special education bus routes next year Schlather said We have a couple of cover per manent substitute drivers who can help us out in case we dont get anyone for those two empty posi tions so we will be able to run all the routes when school he Schlather said he wanted to get new people trained as soon as pos sible to be ready for the first day of school Typically training a bus driver with no experience and getting the proper licensing can take up to four weeks Someone who has some experi ence and some of the licensing requirements could take a mini mum of two weeks with several hours of training a he We want to make sure the dri vers are fully qualified before we put them on the he said Communications TwoWay Sales Service PAGING CELLULAR LS750 NIXXO PLATINUM NEW PAGER MONTHS AIR TIME ACTIVATION NEWBRAUNEELS SEGUIN SAN MARCOS SAN FREEMEKENDS FREE LEATHER CASE CHARGER NEW BRAUNFELS TX 221A TRADE CENTER DRIVE Some restiklions Apply See store for details in the execution chamber some times with proxy wives joining family members as witnesses Earlier this year inmate Michael McBride was executed for murdering exgirlfriend Christian Fisher and James Alan Holzler both 18 outside McBrides Lubbock residence on October 1985 McBride went to the death chamber clad in a bright purple shirt and green pants His proxy wife Davina Wilson Steppen also of Germany wore a purple summer coat while his father Thomas McBride of Austin wore a dark green shirt Purple signified McBrides passion for his proxy wife Green was his fathers favorite color COMAL DRUG 544 N Union New Braunfels TX Photo Hours Wednesday August 2 12 99 1 10X13 18X10 2 5X7s grmtpebargf 16 King Size Wallcls 8 Regular Size Wallets at pickup USE KODAK FILM A CHEMISTR j jpenuine aria Foreign Also Coin Jewelry tn lUaunfrls AMAZING SPECIALS ON GERMANYS FINEST 158 Sink IVIiiii Storage 452 3O6 Security Gate Fence On Site Resident IVlanager Now Leasing FREE LOCK WITH EACH RENTAL 12 Covered RV Storages 132 IVIini Storage Units All Sizes Call or Come By 8306252872 Starting pay for bus drivers in said TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE HERALD ZEITUNG CALL 6259144 Bahamas Las Vegas Florida Hawaii FREE Vacation Package1 1 with purchase of any new home 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