Admitted kickback schemer Barbara Byrd-Bennett faces up to seven years in prison for her scheme to enrich herself at the public education trough. But spending a single dime on her incarceration is a waste of public money. Bennett’s criminal career is over; she’s nonviolent and no longer a danger to society. How about a punishment that will weigh on her every one of those 2,555 days much more than the slammer? I’m referring to home confinement with the stipulation that she spend every school day tutoring needy kids in the schools she sold out to the fake principle consulting company.
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She could spend each month in a different school, starting off with a public apology to the entire student body, before setting up in her own classroom tutoring and mentoring the neediest students one on one. It would save we taxpayers a hunk of loot; offer help where it’s sorely needed; and allow Bennett to expiate her societal transgressions in a uniquely constructive manner. She should also be paid for this valuable work at the nominal rate for any convict doing prison work. If we do this, everybody wins except the hard time dead-enders who think nothing of adding to our No. 1 world wide ranking of incarcerating our citizenry.
Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn
Give vets day off
So many of our veterans have continued protecting us, this time as police officers and firefighters for the people of the City of Chicago. And yet, ironically, while many non-veterans will be off work, many of these veterans are working on Veterans’ Day, a day meant to honor their sacrifices. Rahm Emanuel, let’s give these veterans a proper Veterans’ Day this year, and give them the day off!
Eileen Murtaugh Gaffney, Mount Greenwood
A very moving column in Wednesday’s Sun-Times from the director of an early learning center. Yes, the state’s budget crisis is having an impact on lower income families trying to get their preschool and elementary school children into good programs. This situation has potentially very serious consequences for working families and families struggling to survive.
It appears that our elected government leaders are more concerned about personal image of not backing down than doing what they were elected to do — run the government.
Of course, what percentage of voters actually votes? What percentage of voters try to get information about the political candidates before voting? How can politicians, such as the “leaders” keep getting re-elected without ever passing a sustainable budget?
A lot of the crimes of violence that are hurting and scaring us would decrease if families did not have to struggle financially. Fixing the budget would have a more positive effect on crime than tougher prison sentencing or stricter gun control.
Perhaps, while working families are struggling through these times, the super wealthy can give contributions to preschool and after school programs. Then, over time, as the super wealthy take care of the working class, amendments to the Constitution can be made altering the right to vote. History is evidence that the right to vote is becoming a worthless right.
So, take a few minutes to contact your local elected politician and let him/her know you are going to vote in the next election and to take action now to fix the budget. Otherwise give up your right to vote.
George Pfeifer, Evanston
How prison helps
A letter in Wednesday’s Reader Feedback arguing against higher minimum sentences for gun offenders, makes the assertion that, “Gun crimes aren’t going to subside due to a change in sentencing.”
While I believe longer sentences won’t be a deterrent to anyone intent on committing a gun crime (although she didn’t give this or any other reason for her assertion), the writer is ignoring the fact that as long as a gun offender is in prison, they won’t be able to commit a gun crime.
Another declaration the writer makes is that raising the minimum sentence will do nothing but give politicians and police cover to lie to their constituents that they have done something to stop gun violence. While I’m not a fan of politicians or the police, they are human beings, who are genuinely distraught when they see gun offenders released after serving little to no time at all, only to kill someone shortly after their release.
The writer does provide admirable alternatives, such as shutting down the gun pipelines, investing in education, child care, and recreational opportunities for youngsters and their families, and jobs, housing, and education for released inmates, but I have to ask why can’t we do all of these and not say it’s either this or that? The writer concludes that minimum sentencing for gun offenders will lead to mass imprisonment, “which only serves to re-create the very conditions that allow gun violence to thrive.”
Yes, prison and jails are horrible places. The writer’s law firm is to be commended for working towards improving conditions in jails and prisons, but they are, at present, all we’ve got to keep violent criminals off the streets, and if we’d release the nonviolent offenders who are there because they were caught in possession of drugs are released, or not put in prison at all, the only people in prison to be corrupted by the imprisonment would be those who already are corrupt.
Scott Holm, Lake Zurich