Save money by ending capital punishment, closing 'supermax' prison
When I hear about the state's budget crunch, I can think of several cost-saving measures that could ease up funding for more important uses such as jobs, education, health care and drug rehabilitation.
First, do away with the death penalty. It costs too much. In her book, "Dead Man Walking," Helen Prejean says the execution of a prisoner costs more than life imprisonment. "That's because capital trials require more expert witnesses and more investigators, a longer jury selection process (those who oppose the death penalty must be screened out), the expenses of sequestering a jury, not one but two trials because of the required separate sentencing trial, and appeals in state and federal courts." Additional expenses include keeping Death Row prisoners segregated under conditions where they are not allowed to work, which prevents them from helping to pay for their upkeep.
Writing in 1993, based upon costs prior to that time, Prejean says that the estimated cost of each death sentence in Florida was approximately $3.18 million, compared to the cost of life imprisonment (about 40 years) of about $516,000. And Texas spent approximately $2.3 million on each capital case, forcing cutbacks in other crucial areas of crime control. She asks, "How many laid off police officers is one execution worth?"
Second, operating a "supermax" prison costs too much. Keeping prisoners locked up in solitary confinement 24 hours a day (except for a shower and recreation alone in a cage for one hour, five days a week), is far too expensive. Judge Gwin stated in his recent opinion concerning the Ohio State Penitentiary, "the annual cost per inmate at the OSP is $49,007.44, while the annual cost per inmate at the maximum security Southern Ohio Correctional Facility is $34,167.24." In his opinion, increased procedural protections would ensure that inmates who could be safely housed elsewhere at cheaper cost would not be sent to the OSP.
Third, let the parole board release men who have served many more years in prison than the parole board's guidelines call for. Some of the prisoners are being held, at high cost to taxpayers, for more years than they would have to serve if they were sentenced under mandatory sentencing laws now in effect.
Build bridges not walls for community welfare
For the past 30-plus years, issues involving the Jackson-Milton Schools have caused stress and division in the communities of that school district.
They become the criteria that separate citizen from citizen, neighbor from neighbor, and even friend from friend.
When are people going to learn that one gains nothing by building walls rather than building bridges? Justification on either side of an issue can be found. Answers and resolve does not come by selfish and prideful defenses.
On May 7 the citizens of the Jackson-Milton School District will be voting on a 10.2-mill levy for 27 years for a new school complex.
Sadly, what will determine the result of the levy is not whether the community wants to have a new school complex, but rather who is going to try to convince whom on matters still stirring the people
I already see the divisions within the communities. Will the vote open minds and bring a means to address the concerns of the minority as well as the majority? Sadly the answer, if based on past and current history, is no.
Will we ever learn that bridges build relationships that bring constructive results for the good of humanity? Building more walls only separates the good people on both sides which is now happening.
I say build the bridges of working relationships and the crumbling walls will produce the desired results.
FRED E. SCHROCK