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Electronic Design

Readers Respond To Decision On Justice

Dear Mark: I'll begin by saying I agree with you that a controlled-circulation magazine must enforce certain subscription requirements if it is to maintain its relationships with the advertising industry. In most cases, you should not be expected to ship magazines to someone in Steve's circumstance. That said, I take considerable exception to your final paragraph. I had worked for Mr. Jacob's company for two years before his conviction and continued in my capacity as head technician for two years following. At this point I moved on, forming my own computer repair and development company, and I have been running it ever since.

Unlike you, however, what I drew from all of this was not a fear of Mr. Jacob, but an absolute horror of what passes for judicial process and justice in this country. I don't know what actually happened or who murdered those people, but I saw a great deal of collusion between the officers of the court. I was particularly disheartened by the actions of the politically ambitious D.A. and Steve's own defense attorney. I heard about several instances of potentially exonerating evidence lost or damaged by the forensic "experts." I also saw many instances of prosecutorial misdirection to the point of professional misconduct—theatrics never challenged by the defense.

I don't speak to Mr. Jacob anymore. He isn't pleased that I formed my own company and left his, which did eventually close down. I can understand his feelings toward me, but I genuinely believe he is not by nature a criminal. He is not attempting to receive your magazine or any publication as an act of deceit. Steve Jacob expects to be exonerated and one day return to society. When that day comes, he wishes to resume his place in the industry he loves and not find that it has irrevocably passed him by.
Alan E. Walker

Dear Mark: I am Steven Jacob. I wish to point out a number of errors in your Editorial column about me and my case.

First of all, I believe that I do meet the "high standard" of qualification for your magazine. Regardless of any business I may or may not be associated with, I have and continue to "specify or authorize the purchase of electronic products." Since 1997, I have been an inmate legal aide working in the law library. During that time, the DOC librarian was looking to replace law books with less expensive CD-ROMs. I was asked to, and did, prepare a proposal to put all the DOC Law Libraries onto a virtual private network to share access to the CD-ROMs. In this proposal, I "specified" some $250,000 worth of electronic products such as PCs, software, servers, CD jukeboxes, printers, and networking equipment. Since this project is ongoing and I am still asked for my input on it from time to time, I assume that I meet your "high standard" and thus qualify for a subscription to Electronic Design.

More seriously, you accused me of "falsifying" my subscription qualification forms. This is an accusation that I adamantly deny.

As important, the AP story contained several errors and omissions that you repeated:

  • You state DOC policy "prohibits inmates from operating a business or receiving mail addressed to them as operators of a business while in prison." This in incorrect. The Administrative Regulation prohibits inmates from "establishing business enterprises without the approval of the Chief Executive Officer (warden) of the facility." There is nothing that says inmates cannot receive mail addressed to them as operators of a business.
  • You repeat that I will not be allowed monetary damages. This, too, is incorrect. The Appeals Court's decision said that I would not be allowed monetary damages under a state tort claim. Even so, I am allowed monetary damages for the civil rights violation under the federal statute, 42 U.S.C. 1983.
  • Next, my conviction of 1990 has already been overturned once, and I am still working toward getting the second conviction overturned.

Your attitude is understandable because you have only the AP and other news stories to come to your conclusions. But understand that by repeating their errors you help to propagate them and establish them as facts.

Convicted I am; Murderer I am not!
Steven Jacob

Mark David responds:
To qualify for Electronic Design, you must be doing design and development engineering on an ongoing basis, for more than just a single special project. Also, I did not accuse Mr. Jacob of falsifying his subscription qualification forms. However, I did say that he "is falsifying his subscription credentials by continuing to represent himself to us as the president of an electronics-related company that he is no longer permitted to operate, as per the policy of the Nebraska DOC."

All letters, e-mails, and online comments are subject to editing for content and length.

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