Taking a first step

By our individual and collective action, we can make American culture one about life, not death. Events in Sandy Hook, Parkland, El Paso, and Odessa have come to block out the bright sun of America’s goodness.

Every child, every human being, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or country of origin — every person — has the right to inherit a world that, once secure, will make our communities, our country and our world richer.

We must act to strengthen our dysfunctional political system by embracing a basic truth that as citizens, we can act to keep weapons of war out of the hands of civilians.

A problem so complex has no simple solution, but if my proposal could save one life, I must ask myself, is it worth it? Yes. And if that one life is one of those I know and love. Yes.

Isaiah instructs in the Old Testament to “beat swords into plowshares,” which might read take fear and hatred out of a hand and fill that same hand with charity and love.

A long journey requires a first step. ...

Therefore, I am offering $500 to any person in Latah County who will surrender his AR-14 or AR-15 to be destroyed and sign a pledge to give that money to a charity of their choice. Reach out to me at globalsmithb@gmail.com.

I hope others from churches, service organizations, and groups will join me in my pilgrimage of life. If not, I am prepared to walk alone. ...

Stan Smith


Dams not to blame

As you reported, low steelhead returns this year have some people blaming the lower Snake River dams. The science and data of Snake River steelhead and salmon don’t support that.

In March, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife predicted that fisheries for “steelhead bound for the Columbia and Snake rivers” would be low this year due to ocean conditions. The poor return was not caused by the dams. Indeed, during the past decade, steelhead runs reached record levels, even with the dams in place. Dam-related mortality is lower now than it was when we saw those runs.

Additionally, the claim of one person that he gives “salmon and steelhead a decade” is ironic. Environmental activists made a similar claim in 1999, claiming salmon would be extinct on the Snake in 2017. The average runs of steelhead and salmon over the past several years are larger than in the ’90s, when that unscientific claim was made.

The low runs this year are frustrating, to be sure. The science, however, doesn’t support the attacks on the dams. When people get frustrated, they ignore the science and data. That may be cathartic, but it makes for really bad policy.

Todd Myers

Washington Policy Center


Rehab efforts fail

In regard to Apollo Warnock’s Oct. 6 letter, I retired 22 years ago and do not need job security. I offer my opinions as an honest attempt to convey useful information to the public. For the most part I agree with your assessment of the criminal justice system. However, you seem to misunderstand the legal constraints placed on jails and prisons.

Jails are charged with confining persons convicted of a crime and those awaiting trial. Usually they have no funding for rehabilitation programs. Meanwhile, prisons are charged with the confinement of persons convicted of a crime and do, in some instances, have funding for rehabilitation programs. Most prisons fall under the general heading of correctional facilities. It is my view that “correctional” is a misnomer since they “correct” very little. This is mostly a feel-good phrase to give the impression to the public that they are engaged in some humanitarian effort to salvage criminal offenders.

Early in my career, I was a correctional program supervisor and the institution offered a variety of vocational programs — body and fender, plumbing, sheet metal, masonry, etc., plus weekly counseling sessions. These programs accomplished very little to rehabilitate the inmate.

Across the spectrum of released offenders, the current recidivism rate is 77 percent. Several years ago when I was teaching criminal justice classes, the rate was hovering around 63 percent.

I never implied we should quit trying to find solutions. However, we are currently failing. I find only one approach that appears to be successful.

Jerry Strahan


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