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March 12 Letters to the Editor

Cost of prison reform

In the past several months there seems to be a campaign under way driven in part by state Rep. Jim Schatz, D-Blue Hill, to change the methods that our state prison system uses to handle inmates. They have garnered the support of the psychiatric community in that they will get to come into the special management units and check on the welfare of each inmate on a weekly basis.

I wonder who will foot the bill for that service.

In a March 8 letter to the editor, Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey claim that most of the inmates in the special management unit are insane or soon will be. How did they come to this conclusion? Have they actually been in contact with the aforementioned inmates on a regular basis? Do they have degrees that would qualify them to diagnose these people?

They claim the Maine Council of Churches and dozens of religious, medical, civic and social work professionals concur that living in isolation is a form of torture causing permanent behavioral problems in prison and after release. Would they please volunteer to work in one or several jails and prisons around the state? They should get some firsthand experience in dealing with these people, then come back with demonstrable methods of incarceration that protect inmates, guards and the public from harm.

Thomas Bonner



No justice, no school

Fifteen years ago, the faculty of Husson College voted to forgo tenured status, little realizing that one day the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, the seat of wisdom and fairness, would use that fact to deny the college the right to establish a law school. At this writing, more than 190 degree aspirants have expressed an interest in attending Husson University Law School, which would accommodate part-time students.

It seems obscene to me that the American Bar Association, from its pontifical perch in Chicago, can dictate tenure policy and by so doing so denature the Maine Law Court as to send them cringing behind such a lame and flimsy excuse for denying 190 good Maine citizens the opportunity of improving their lot.

The ABA-speak is that it will not allow anyone graduating from an institution of higher learning the privilege of taking their sacrosanct bar exam if the degree-granting institution does not conform to its tenure policy. Without being able to sit for a bar exam, any poor soul in possession of a law degree might just as well be a fig farmer for all the good his hard-earned law degree will do him.

In case the Law Court has forgotten, we have a Maine Bar Association, and that association could easily, through its own testing, legitimize anyone holding a Husson law degree to practice law in the state of Maine.

Phil Tobin



Save Saturday delivery

Concerning a recent report in the March 3 BDN, “Postal Service pushes to end weekend delivery”: I think the post office would do better to charge more money to the companies who send out all those ads and catalogs, than to stop delivering mail on Saturdays.

Every day my mailbox holds about twice as many ads or catalogs from companies I have no intention of doing business with or duplicate catalogs (with only the cover changed) from companies I do buy from, as it does “real” mail. If these things cost more to send, not only would the post office get more money, but perhaps those companies would cut back on the junk mail.

I often wonder if the post office really does get enough money from commercial mailers to pay for what it costs to deliver those ads and catalogs.

Beth Kidder

Bar Harbor


Invest early, often

As a businessman, I view investments I make today in my company and my employees as tools that will strengthen and sustain my business and the quality of service we provide our customers for many years into the future.

When it comes to public investments in programs that can help Maine students increase graduation rates, policy makers should take the same long-term look at what works.

High-quality early education pays great dividends for the future.

Children who attend high-quality early education programs start school ready to learn, are retained less often, need less special education services and are more likely to graduate high school on time.

In fact, Henry Levin, a researcher at Columbia University, found that high-quality pre-kindergarten programs are the most proven tools for improving graduation rates.

As legislators and our members of Congress focus on how to increase graduation rates, they should ensure that early education programs are well-funded and available to serve more Maine children. Currently, only 41 percent of Maine’s 4-year-olds and only 17 percent of Maine’s 3-year-olds are enrolled in state pre-K programs, Head Start, or early childhood special education programs.

Funding for Head Start, Early Head Start, Child Care Development Block Grants and state pre-K should be expanded to include more Maine youngsters into the highest quality programs. Then we will see our return on investment produce increased graduation rates in the next decade.

John Bragg


N.H. Bragg & Sons



What are costs?

No wonder insurance companies have been spending tens of millions of dollars supporting their favorite candidates in opposition to the public option. The option would provide the federal government with direct knowledge of the costs of providing health care.

It reminds me of the fight power companies in the 1930’s waged against the Tennessee Valley Authority. President Roosevelt argued that by directly providing electricity, the government would have a “yardstick” by which to measure the actual costs of providing electricity. Today, insurance companies claim overhead expenses that are the billions they have been making.

Sen. Susan Collins recently said she opposes health care reform because the House and Senate bills do not come to grips with its costs. This is a new position for her and it pertains only to providing the health care that Maine people want. She had no such opposition to debt when she voted for the trillion dollar needless Iraq war, or turned a blind eye to the rip-offs enjoyed there by our military contractors, or the Bush tax cuts for billionaires. She even favors elimination of the inheritance tax on our richest citizens, another huge loss to the treasury that increases the national debt.

The fact is, she does not know what the costs may be of providing adequate universal health insurance and care for all Americans, and she is making sure that no one finds out.

Clyde MacDonald


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