Privatizing prisons is a scam

Privatizing prisons is a scam

As a corrections officer with more then 20 years on the job, I see the whole notion that private prisons save the state money is a well conceived lie.

As a state corrections officer I have had to interact with the private prison in Conneaut since its inception. The only way it was able to break even with state institutional operational costs was if an inmate in trouble or sick for a long period of time or requiring eyes-on, 24-hour watch was immediately transferred to a state run facility so as not to run up the costs of Lake Erie Correctional.

And so it was a scheme perpetuated by those with a vested interest in their ill-conceived plan to privatize the state prison system. As reported, when you have to cut costs to save money to meet the profit margin of a private company shortcuts are the only way to operate. When you create shortcuts, security is the first casualty of a prison’s operations. Staffing and security are a burden on the bottom line. That is the price of privatizing an aspect of what should remain a governmental service .

Ronald Bayless, Mineral Ridge

Issue 2 reins in party politics

Issue 2 addresses Ohio’s pro- cess for drawing congressional districts lines, which is necessary when the number of seats in the House of Representatives of a given state goes up or down following the 10-year census. In Ohio we have gone from 18 to 16 congressional districts. There are two basic issues: Who draws the lines? What guidelines govern the drawing of those lines?

The League of Women Voters has for nearly 30 years worked to develop a system for Ohio that would take redistricting out of the hands of the politicians, who have sought to manipulate the boundaries to produce the most advantageous map for their party. Two recent books — “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks” written by Thomas Mann, a fellow of the Brookings Institute, and Norman Ornstein, fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, and “The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans” by Mickey Edwards, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives — state that we need to take control over redistricting from the political parties.

Issue 2 would create a commission. The initial pool would be selected from applicants by eight state appeals court judges. The commission would be “divided evenly among Democrats, Republicans and Ohio voters unaffiliated with either major party.” If we can trust our judges to oversee our justice system and juries of our peers with impartial judgments in civil and criminal matters, I think we should trust them to apply the principle that no identified interested party is to serve.

Prohibited from serving would be “Specified elected office holders, candidates, political party officials, paid lobbyists and public employees and family members...”

The guidelines to be applied by the commission to the drawing of district lines are: “preserving whole communities; maximizing the number of competitive districts; balancing the number of districts leaning toward one party or another ... and keeping those districts compact.” A look at the last map drawn by Ohio legislators violates each of these four criteria.

Mickey Edwards states that the present system has candidates selecting their voters rather than voters selecting the candidates. Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein point out that the United States is less “democratic” than other democracies in letting “politicians shape the rules that affect their own electoral fortunes.” I urge you to vote yes on Issue 2 and take one small step toward producing a democracy that works — transparent, participative and accountable.

Barbara Brothers, Youngstown

Issue 2 is the last thing Ohio needs

Issue 2 is an expensive and com- plicated proposed amendment to Ohio’s Constitution. The state’s budget office did an analysis of Issue 2 and estimated it will cost taxpayers between $11 million and $15.2 million. That’s a price tag we don’t need and can’t afford.

Issue 2 proposes a radical overhaul of our redistricting process. The backers of Issue 2 offer a complex process of a 12-member commission that would determine district lines for state legislative and Congressional members. The complications start in the selection of commission members. Many Ohioans are not welcome to apply based on such things as their work history and voting patterns, even who they’re related to.

Issue 2 gives no parameters or caps on spending. Commission members set their own salaries, and determine budgets for staff and operations. The last thing we need is a large new expensive state agency. Vote no on Issue 2.

Martha Yoder, West Farmington

Preserve New Middletown’s safety

The New Middletown Village Police Department is asking residents for their support in renewing two existing police levies. Renewals mean no new taxes. The police department operates on three levies as the main funding source for the daily operations. Two levies are currently due to expire at the end of the year and it is imperative that the levies be renewed.

New Middletown is considered one of Mahoning County’s safest communities and that status is a direct result of our community having a professional police department. New Middletown officers remain on constant watch, making sure the quality of life in the village has not been impinged upon by the criminal element as in other surrounding communities. By having proactive patrols and investigations, we have been able to deter the number of crimes that occur within our community and made known to those who wish to violate the laws of our community that consequences are in place.

Recognizing that problems do exist in the village regarding drug activity, impaired driving and such the police department has a zero tolerance for those violations and to date has made 47 arrests for drug offenses and 22 arrests for impaired driving.

Other significant arrests this year have included one for public indecency, 23 additional alcohol related arrests for open containers and public intoxications, 10 carrying concealed weapons, one burglary, two parole violations and 13 warrant arrests. The department has responded to 627 calls for service. Eight persons were indicted by the grand jury as a result of village police investigations.

Our relationship with the Springfield school district in providing a highly trained school resource officer has been the role model for other school districts. Our children are our most important assets and the police department continues to develop and provide cutting edge procedures that continue to strengthen our safety programs for our children.

This can all only continue to be accomplished by voter support on Election Day and by voting yes on renewing the two police levies.

Chief Vincent D’Egidio, New Middletown