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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Threat could mean prison
"President Bush, I have a 38 revolver I, brought for you!" a woman wrote.
By ABBIE VANSICKLE, Times Staff Writer
Published November 27, 2007
Deloris Jean Baines has long suffered from mental health issues.
TAMPA - On July 31, 2006, a letter arrived at the White House Remote Mail Facility.
"President Bush," it began. "I have a 38 revolver I, brought for you! Your food in the White House is better than mine. Your living like a king, you had no need of nothing!"
The letter, which continued on in broken sentences, was signed "Deloris Jean Baines."
Today, Baines, a 45-year-old homeless woman, is scheduled to plead guilty in Tampa to federal charges of threatening to injure or kill the president. She faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Court documents give a glimpse into the accusations against her - and her response to the charges.
After someone spotted the letter, Secret Service Special Agent Matthew Delvin interviewed Baines. She told the agent that the president doesn't care about poor people.
On Aug. 10, 2006, she wrote her thoughts on the matter: "I am ready for 5 years in prison Federal please! I am guilty, and very sane. I did buy a gun!"
Court records indicate it took more than a year for the case to wind its way through the system, in part because Baines was treated for mental illness.
Even if someone is thought to be mentally ill or thousands of miles from the nation's capital, the Secret Service and the U.S. Attorney's Office don't take such threats lightly, said U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Steve Cole.
"Anytime the president is threatened, our office and the Secret Service take it very seriously," he said.
That includes examining every single threat, said John Joyce, special agent in charge of the Secret Service Tampa Field Office.
A psychiatric evaluation by Dr. Jeffrey A. Danziger shows that Baines has struggled for years with mental health problems.
In 1993, she was accused of robbery and a false report of a bomb threat at a library, court records show. In 1996, she was accused of threatening to bomb a hospital, and in 1997, she was accused of robbery.
In 2005, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, records show.
She told the doctor she was not mentally ill, that she "did stuff" to get back at people who did awful things to her. She told the doctor she wrote the letter to Bush because she believed she needed to take a stand for the troops overseas.
"He was wrong to do it, killing all those troops there," she told the doctor, records show. "I needed to make a point."
The doctor concluded Baines didn't have a rational understanding of her situation, that she suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
After that, Baines went to a federal medical facility in Texas for treatment, court records show. In August, the warden there determined she was recovered enough to proceed with the charges against her, as long as she was on medication.
On Sunday, the U.S. Marshals Service returned Baines to Hillsborough County's Orient Road Jail, where she was held without bail.
Times researcher Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this report. Abbie VanSickle can be reached at email@example.com or 813 226-3373.