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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, January 09, 2019 1:00 am

Letters

Neighborhood fenced in by squirrelly uncle

Imagine that your crazy Uncle Ronald tells you that you need a new, expensive fence to keep your neighbor's “squirrels” out of your yard. And because Uncle Ronald is such a great deal maker, your neighbor is going to foot the bill. Sounds like a win-win, right?

Then, after you voted for Uncle Ronald to make him president of the neighborhood association, you find out that he hadn't actually gotten around to an agreement with your neighbor to pay for the fence. But crazy Uncle Ronald still thinks you need the fence, so he's going to just have you pay for it. And he's willing to shut down the entire neighborhood until you do.

You know, those squirrels are pretty smart. I'm afraid they're going to find ways into your yard, with or without the fence.

Gary Bartle

Harlan

Facts horrible, solutions possible for prison system

Thanks and kudos for Tyler Cowen's Jan. 2 op-ed “Nation can do better than prisons' moral horror.” Cowen does a credible job of elucidating the horror of our nation's justice system and offers solutions.

I urge everyone to see the riveting TED talk by Robin Steinberg titled “What If We Ended the Injustice of Bail?” This talk is an examination of an oppressive system that needs to be disrupted and reformed. She and her husband started the Bail Fund after 20 years of frustration as public defenders. Bailing out thousands, they proved that such a system fosters oppressive plea bargains and convictions of innocent people, criminalizes people for minor offenses, and is expensive and unsustainable. This talk shows what can happen if common citizens with moral courage follow through in their own context to bring change.

Here are horrific statistics from a 2014 article by Laura Dimon titled “19 Actual Statistics About America's Prison System”:

1. The United States has 5 percent of the world's population but 25 percent of the world's prisoners; 2. The incarcerated population in the U.S. is a staggering 2.4 million – a 500 percent increase over the past 30 years; 3. One in 28 U.S. children has a parent behind bars; 4. A first-time drug offense carries a sentence of five to 10 years. In other developed countries, that sentence would be six months of jail time, if any at all; 5. Conservative estimates put innocent people who plead guilty between 2 and 5 percent, which translates to tens of thousands of innocent people behind bars today.

May we return to our nation's founding principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” As Steinberg says, “Freedom needs to be free.” Think on that. We can and must do better.

Rev. Dr. Stephen Cain

Fort Wayne

Trash bin frustration not worth the cost

On a recent morning, I had an issue with my trash pickup, but Red River is not the culprit. From what a Red River supervisor and the City of Fort Wayne's 311 operator told me, National Serv-All is.

The Red River supervisor told me they were ordered by the city to collect and destroy all National Serv-All bins. The 311 operator told me that “National Serv-All told the city to pick up and destroy all trash bins with their name on them.”

I have two problems with this. First, the bin that was picked up and destroyed was my property. I purchased it from National Serv-All 16 years ago. Second, since when does a private company order the city to take and destroy someone's property?

The Red River supervisor told me the city would compensate me by supplying me with another trash bin free of charge. The 311 operator told me I would have to pay the city $2 a month for another bin. This after they ordered the bin taken from me and destroyed. Has anyone at National Serv-All or the city ever heard of due process?

Doug Housholder

Fort Wayne