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Published: Sunday, 10/12/2008

Sentences often unjust, unnecessary

I laud the Blade's Sept. 29 editorial questioning the utility of mandatory minimum sentences and noting growing public awareness that such sentences are often unjust and unnecessary. Just as important, the public - and even some elected officials - are gradually becoming aware of the fiscal consequences of excessively lengthy sentences, especially those imposed on nonviolent offenders.

It costs about $25,000 per year per inmate to keep a convict in prison. Those tax dollars are in many instances spent unnecessarily to confine persons who, were they sooner able to return to the community, and were sufficient resources provided at far less cost to supervise and work with them, would pose little, if any, risk to the community.

Perhaps our legislators will come in time to understand that we can no longer afford a sentencing structure that responds to politically appealing but fiscally irresponsible demands for longer and longer terms of imprisonment. Every dollar spent needlessly and uselessly to confine nonviolent offenders longer than they need to be confined is a dollar taken from other, and more pressing, public needs.

James G. Carr

Chief Judge

United States District Court

Toledo

Homeless people bused to the polls and asked to vote the same day they register. So-called helpers leaning over their shoulder to "assist" in understanding how to vote. Young people who normally wouldn't come to the polls on their own are pressured to come just one time to register and vote on the same day. Of course, this is all in the name of good government and no pressure is applied to suggest a particular candidate.

Getting out the vote is one thing but the tactics tend to echo the methods of long ago. Tammany Hall brought drunks and indigents to the polls with promises of cash or alcohol for a "correct" vote. They also had "assistants" to assure how ballots were marked. Some of those voters even seemed to have risen from the grave.

The change in political party of the secretary of state's office surely didn't have anything to do with the decision to allow this fraud-enabling method of voting, did it? Well, the fact that the state has voted Republican in the last two presidential elections might have had some effect.

Robert Pflager

Wauseon

Being a senior citizen, it was so very interesting to read a lead story in the Oct. 5 edition of The Blade praising the efforts of the Obama campaign to round up the homeless, students, and others in financial distress and get them registered and voting in order to provide votes for their candidate in the coming election. I wonder what they actually provide in addition to meals, free transportation, and entertainment, as reported in The Blade.

Over 70 years ago, I recall hearing a conversation between my grandfather and an uncle, talking about "politics" in Chicago, where they had lived before moving to Toledo. My grandfather related that, in an election, a political group rounded up drunks and bums in local saloons and alleys, took them to election sites, watched over their shoulders as they voted, and paid them a dollar or two if they voted "correctly." Hmm, some things never change, do they?

Dale K. Anderson

Ottawa Hills

I would like to thank The Blade's Marilou Johanek for her insightful column on how race plays such a large part of this year's election. Until I read it, I hadn't realized that because I live in rural America, I must be a racist.

My reason for not supporting Barack Obama would have to be the color of his skin and not the fact the every time he uses the word "invest" it actually means "spend." Investing is something Mr. Obama can do with his money; spending is what he would do with mine.

When Mr. Obama makes a speech about stripping profits from "greedy corporations" and distributing the proceeds to struggling Americans, it must make me cringe because he doesn't look like the pictures on my money and not because I wonder who gets to decide who is greedy and who is struggling.

What Ms. Johanek must not realize is that in Ohio, as in the nation, the public doesn't care about lapel pins, ministers, candidate spouses' driving records, age, or dare I say, race. It may be hard to believe but what most of us actually care about is what direction a candidate will take this country.

It is a disservice to all Americans to say not supporting the first black major party presidential candidate must be racism, and I find it interesting that the same people who banded together against Mr. Obama last year are now on his bandwagon and telling us, once again, what is wrong with us.

Lenny Sniegocki

Delta, Ohio

In the Sept. 21 edition of The Blade was a report of the results of a poll commissioned by the Ohio News Organization.

The story cited one of the organizer's of the poll as indicating he "did not find strong evidence of race bias among voters." Yet, of the African-American voters polled, The Blade's story indicated that only 1 percent would vote for one of the Caucasian candidates, whereas 98 percent of them would vote for the African-American candidate.

This is an extreme example of race bias. Why was it not noted by anyone in The Blade's editorial staff chain of command?

Thomas D. Geracioti

Perrysburg

In the past week, The Blade has published two opinion columns regarding racial bias among the whites in the upcoming election. I haven't seen any op-ed pieces about the bias on the side of blacks.

It seems to me that a certain percentage of whites will not vote for Barack Obama even if he walked on water. Conversely, a certain percentage of blacks will vote for Mr. Obama even if his IQ was the same as his age.

Obviously, there's racial bias on both sides.

Helen McWilliams

Sylvania

Why is Barack Obama referred to as black? He is the product of a marriage between a white mother and a black father. Why does that not make him white?

In her recent speech in Toledo, Donna Brazille referred to him as being "biracial," a much more appropriate designation.

This kind of slight language shift might also begin to cause a slight shift in our black and white thinking.

Cara Ulrich

Archbold, Ohio

Gov. Sarah Palin did a great job in her vice presidential debate with Sen. Joe Biden. Her youthful look, hair, and make-up done like the sort of sexy substitute teacher only Hollywood dreams up, and her "doggone it, Joe's" were true classic theater.

But on substance and the track record of the past eight years of her party, the Republican Party, her response was "don't look back." If I'm not mistaken, didn't our last president come from governing an energy-producing state?

I understand that former Bush adviser Karl Rove is in charge of the puppet strings and she's only running for vice president, but imagine if John McCain did die and she became president. The list of presidents of the United States would start with Washington, include Jefferson, Lincoln would be in there as well as the two Roosevelts and Kennedy, then it would end with Bush and Palin. I'm scared to look forward.

Matthew Golkiewicz

Petersburg, Mich.

Do we really want Wall Street managing our Social Security funds?

Wouldn t that be like giving an alcoholic permission to manage a liquor store?

GEORGE W. WEIDNER

Barrows Street



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