Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Saturday’s letters: Short-sighted prison cuts hurt society

Call to rethink prison cuts | May 10

Short-sighted prison cuts hurt society

The Florida Department of Corrections is dismantling successful substance abuse and re-entry treatment programs to fix a $28 million shortfall. The short-sighted action will adversely affect communities, offenders, and businesses: an action that is totally unacceptable.

The loss of substance abuse inmate programs means a greater likelihood of drug and alcohol relapse and a greater chance for repeat criminal offenders. The loss of therapeutic beds means no more graduated re-entry into society and offenders going back into their communities without critical substance abuse treatment. These programs are integral to rehabilitation; these offenders obtain jobs, pay restitution, child support and fines.

The DOC cuts also affect drug courts. Judges’ options to choose a substance abuse diversionary program over a prison sentence will be greatly diminished, thus continuing to crowd Florida’s prison system, and denying treatment to offenders in the community. Inmates currently in diversionary and re-entry programs receiving the cuts will need to be resentenced and reassigned.

The DOC cuts affect every single contracted facility that offers substance abuse treatment and re-entry programs. The providers will lay off more than 600 full-time employees. The promise by the DOC to re-establish programs once money is somehow back in the budget rings hollow with no plan in place to secure funding being lost. Treatment centers have spent years to launch and refine substance abuse treatment programs; they can’t easily be re-established.

The cost to house an offender for nine months in a community substance abuse treatment bed is far less than the average 3-year sentence for a drug offender in prison. A community-based approach can easily save the state $30,000 per inmate over the course of a drug-offender sentence.

The loss caused by this action to communities, individuals, and businesses is staggering. The Florida Department of Corrections cuts to Substance Abuse Treatment Programs (representing just 1.5 percent of the entire DOC’s $2.4 billion budget) should not be happening at all, let alone in the middle of the opioid crisis and the worst drug epidemic the state has ever experienced.

Mark Fontaine, Tallahassee

The writer is executive director at the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association.

Call to rethink prison cuts

Saving money and people

The programs that are being cut at state prisons are very important to the well-being of the inmates’ return to society upon their release. Many inmates have also been court-ordered to get substance-abuse treatment while incarcerated, and if these programs are done away with, it will affect the person’s ability to complete their court order. Drug use in Florida is so high, and the need for treatment thus is also very high. With these programs, inmates being released are better prepared to cope on the outside, and thus keep crime down and recidivism down (which would cost the state more when a person re-enters).

Another issue is the proposal to cut visitation at the prisons. Visitation is important to the inmate to build and keep a bond, especially with their children. Children already suffer when a parent is incarcerated, and they need that time with their parent.

And, finally, I believe that when people have fully completed the terms of their sentence, they should automatically have their rights to vote restored. We don’t punish our children for something they did, and when they have completed the punishment, keep on punishing them. After they have been punished, they are forgiven. Why do we treat inmates as something less?

Carolyn Hankins, Thonotosassa

He made his mark on bakery, boxing | May 8

He was a good man

I was saddened to read of the passing of Phil Alessi. I moved to Tampa in mid-1981 and took a position with a local commercial bank. Phil’s accounts were assigned to me, and I got to know him well. In early 1982, the bank where I was employed failed, and I started calling all my clients to advise them that their accounts were secure and we would be waiting to see to whom the bank would be sold. When I called Phil, the first thing he asked me was if staff was all right. I advised him we were fine, but we were required to stay into the night in order to see who the purchasing bank might be. Phil took it upon himself to send over to the bank boxes of Cuban sandwiches for the staff, simply out of his concern for us all. It was an act of generosity that I will always remember. He will be missed.

Mike Little, San Antonio

A huge step backward | May 9. editorial

Trump’s dislike of Obama

So another of former President Barack Obama’s major achievements during his administration has been kicked to the curb. Have we known of a sitting president who has shown such blatant animus toward his predecessor, whose primary agenda is to dismantle or even destroy Obama’s legacy?

John Hayner, Clearwater

Longo: Rays should move | May 11

First, play better baseball

The Tampa Bay Rays’ demand for a new stadium to improve attendance is like saying a new racket will make you play better tennis. The Rays need to field a winning team. Then, the revenue flow could perhaps someday warrant a new stadium.

Parker Reis, St. Petersburg

Baby steps are first steps | May 5, letter

Sensible rules on guns

It is almost impossible to alter the Second Amendment. But even rank-and-file NRA members want better background checks. How about a gun license that needs to be renewed like a driver’s license? The number of legal opiate users has grown, so why not add a blood test to the background check? Make insurance mandatory. None of this would impede sensible gun ownership.

Robert Spencer, Dunedin

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Wednesday’s letters: First day of school brings a frightening new world

Goodbye for now | Aug. 14First day of schoola scary time nowMonday morning we took our youngest child to start her school life proper. It was bittersweet and tugged on my heart strings for many reasons, but one was that her first day of kindergar...
Updated: 12 minutes ago

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Aug. 17

Re: County authorizes takeover of SunWest Park | Aug. 10‘A poor idea from the startWith no fanfare whatsoever, we now have a new park that no one I know ever seems to use or even know where it is. If it is bringing hordes of tourists to our cou...
Published: 08/13/18

Tuesday’s letters: Habitat should help the poor, not hurt them

Habitat lender choice blasted | Aug. 12Help, don’t hurt, poorAs a Habitat for Humanity admirer, donor and volunteer, I was disappointed to read how Habitat for Humanity’s Hillsborough County affiliate reportedly stumbled in delivering its mission...
Published: 08/10/18
Updated: 08/13/18

Monday’s letters: A gun or a vote: danger is relative

‘I went off the deep end’ | Aug. 10A gun or a vote: danger is relativeAt the demonstrable risk of having someone lose his fragile temper, grab his guns, storm out his door and speed to my home to shoot me for saying so (and why NOT, Florida Legis...
Published: 08/10/18

Sunday’s letters: July’s letter of the month is ‘Time for more civil debate.’

July letter of the monthTime for more civil debate"Politics" is an activity which involves power and control, arriving at decisions based on differing interests. Normally, leaders weigh the needs of the individual with the abilities of the country. C...
Published: 08/09/18
Updated: 08/10/18

Saturday’s letters: A team effort made USF preeminent

USF and preeminenceA team effort vaulted USF The University of South Florida’s designation as a preeminent state research university is a prestigious accomplishment and a tribute to the hard work of faculty, staff and students and USF System Presiden...
Published: 08/09/18
Updated: 08/10/18

Friday’s letters: Don’t let pollution be our legacy

Algae blooms amid cuts | Aug. 8Brown can’t be the new greenThis headline should have said "Republicans continue to pave their way across Florida, pollute the water supply and destroy animals and their habitat." The Republicans have controlled Tal...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/09/18

Wednesday’s letters: Girl’s drowning death is one of two tragedies

Mother: Dead girl now ‘pure’ | Aug. 7Two tragediesThis is another tragedy of a parent who became overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for an autistic child. But an equally bad sequence of events is likely to happen in the days and months t...
Published: 08/06/18
Updated: 08/07/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for Aug. 10

Jacqueline Road being misusedI have issued complaints to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, traffic division and also a letter to the sheriff and have had very little positive response.We have an issue on Jacqueline Road with speeding vehicles and...
Published: 08/06/18

Monday’s letters: Enough with praise for Pier sculpture

Aerial art to billow at Pier | Aug. 3Pier art: boon or boondoggle?Well, finally! The Janet Echelman sculpture project has been approved. The dust has settled and now, at the cost of $2.8 million an over-priced, glorified flag will be flapping ove...
Published: 08/03/18