The terrible irony of it all is that Dennis Hastert got to live a full lifetime without any punishment — it sounds like he had no conscience — and rise to within two heartbeats of the presidency despite being a serial pedophile.

Many others who ruined young people’s lives also ruined their own and have lived out their lives in poverty and homelessness. Yet Hastert got away with it for decades during which he also abused the entire nation with his Hastert Rule that ingrained gridlock in Congress for two decades and counting. House Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP leadership are on record that they will continue to use the “Hastert Rule” — which now has a whole new meaning. Fifteen months is too good for the likes of Denny Hastert.

Dan Lauber, River Forest

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Abolish civil forfeiture

Former DEA administrator Peter Bensinger is woefully off base with his letter [“Seizing drug cartel assets best way to beat them,” April 21, Sun-Times].

As he wrote, forfeiture can certainly “take the profit out of crime.” Yet no one is seriously proposing to eliminate criminal forfeiture, which allows police to seize and hold property during the criminal prosecution, before allowing the state to take title after conviction through forfeiture litigation. Instead, the main outrage is against civil forfeiture, which does not need a criminal conviction or even criminal charges, for people to lose their cash, cars, or even homes.

One wide-ranging investigation by the Washington Post found more than 1,700 cash seizures made “without search warrants or indictments” in Illinois. Those seizures netted Illinois police and prosecutors over $90 million in forfeiture funds — a clear incentive to seize.

Civil forfeiture has been abused so routinely that two former heads of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office under President Ronald Reagan now believe it’s been “corrupted” and “has turned into an evil itself.”

Fortunately, states like Nebraska and New Mexico have recently abolished this travesty of justice. Illinois should join them.

Nick Sibilla, Arlington, Va.

Welcome support

I serve as an Alzheimer’s Association congressional ambassador and recently visited Washington D.C. as part of the association’s annual Advocacy Forum. It is a three-day event in which advocates from across the country come together to directly lobby members of Congress about the critical need to expand research into a cure and improve care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Congressman Bobby Rush has been a longstanding supporter of our cause. He has voted repeatedly in favor of increased funding for National Institutes of Health-led research and is a sponsor of the association’s main legislative priority, the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, which would ensure that dementia diagnoses are documented in patients’ medical charts and establish Medicare coverage for post-diagnosis care planning services.

This year, the Alzheimer’s Association has also joined several other voluntary health organizations in supporting H.R. 3119, a bill that would help expand the availability of palliative and hospice care. These types of care focus on pain reduction and symptom management, and significantly increase patient comfort, reducing the trauma and costs associated unnecessary hospitalizations.

As a memory support unit coordinator of a senior living community, I know firsthand how critical palliative and hospice care are and so I was truly thrilled to see that one week after our visit to his office in Washington D.C. Rush signed on as a cosponsor of the bill, which is known by its congressional acronym PCHETA. The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act and PCHETA will do a great deal to help people and families facing Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia while scientists at the NIH work to close the gaps in our understanding of these diseases and find a cure or treatment.

Katie Bobbitt, Tinley Park

A fair tax

I see no harm in taxing those with a surplus to help those who are struggling to just get by.

The long-term implications of taxing the 1 percent for the sake of education could have a huge ripple effect. Better schools would lead to a more-educated work force. A more-educated work force would obtain higher paying positions, and higher paid workers put back more into the economy.

Not to mention if that money was somehow put in the direction of student grants and scholarships it could potentially lessen the burden of student loans on the next generation entering the higher education system.

It’s about time that the ones who focus on the ever-growing number in their bank accounts start looking at others, and recognize that there’s a real need bigger than hoarding for themselves.

I hope others out there with the power to see this amendment come to pass see the same need that the voters of Illinois recognize. If the majority of the state population wants to see this pass why hasn’t it?

Stefanie Bakes, Oak Forest