Friday, May 25, 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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Monday’s letters: NFL finally listens to its fans

NFL moves to endanthem protests | May 24NFL’s action comes too lateThe NFL owners are, after two years, finally growing some courage.Before these kneel-downs became the elephant in the room, team owners could have taken action to minimize the imp...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Sunday’s letters: As Jews, we should not be afraid to criticize Israel

Updated: 5 hours ago

Saturday’s letters: Bayshore fatalities didn’t have to happen

After two fatalities, speed limits cut | May 25Cameras needed on BayshoreOnce again, two pedestrians have died as the result of careless drivers who were speeding. Once again, the Times and other media outlets are filled with opinions about the c...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Friday's letters: Thanks to jurors for fulfilling civic duty

May is Juror Appreciation Month Thanks, jurors, for your service Trial by a jury of one’s peers is among the bedrock guarantees that make our representative democracy exceptional. Without it, the courtroom fates of defendants and civil litiga...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Thursday’s letters: Heated chemotherapy won’t treat most ovarian cancers

Heated chemotherapy has promising results | May 16Cancer treatment not a cure-all While we were pleased to see the story about ovarian cancer treatment, we are concerned that the article could mislead many patients. The treatment described has be...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/24/18

Wednesday’s letters: A princess gives us a lesson to live by

Royal treatment | May 21Princess offers advice for us allThe radiant and joyful Princess Anna Noela Lokolo of the Democratic Republic of Congo, recent Eckerd College graduate, has given us a huge gift in her parting words. "If people have a negat...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/23/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for May 25

Re: Central High School bomb threat suspect to be tried as adult | May 4Angry mob rhetoric not helpfulWe have observed the public discourse surrounding the case of Mizella Robinson with increasing unease. A sampling of the more common sentiment...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for May 25

Re: Proposed TECO Solar Plant Opposed to the TECO solar plantAs a 21-year resident and property owner, I am writing in opposition to the proposed Tampa Electric Company solar plant in rural northeast Pasco County.The solar plant will be .2 miles from...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Tuesday’s letters: If you don’t like the Electoral College, then amend the Constitution

The popular vote | May 20, letterIf you don’t like it, amend ConstitutionA recent letter supports the idea that a state should be able to change its Electoral College vote to match that of the national popular vote winner as opposed to the result...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Monday’s letters: Focusing on the mental state of shooters misses the point

Texas high school shooting | May 18Criminals, angry people kill peopleSchool shootings are a distinctly American phenomenon. But shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1 percent of all yearly gun-related homicides in ...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/21/18