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In 2005 the League of Women Voters of the Piedmont Triad members began an extensive study of the Guilford County jails and many alternatives to incarceration. As a member of the Jail Study Committee I would like to make a few comments about the recent article titled “The new jail is on time and under budget, but was it worth it?” [March 14, 2012; by Eric Ginsburg] When league members toured the jail in Greensboro we were appalled at the terrible conditions which made it unsafe for both inmates and guards. The cells are smaller than current standards which combined with extreme overcrowding create a tense atmosphere.
During our study we also visited many alternative programs and spoke with the manager and sometimes with clients. After two years of study we came to consensus on jail and alternatives to incarceration. We supported the bond issue for a new jail and the development of more alternative programs that would have specific guidelines and ways to measure success.
The article quotes people who say the county should have spent money on alternative programs and keeping people out of jail instead of building a new jail. The League stressed the need for both approaches. We simply had to build a new jail or the federal government may have forced us to build one and then given us the bill, as happened in Forsyth County. Alternative programs cannot be created overnight. It will require some effort to develop programs that will offer long-term treatment and education so people can graduate with a good chance of becoming healthy, productive, law-abiding citizens.
The other point that needs to be understood is the difference between prisons and jails. Over 90 percent of the people in jail are waiting trial and have not been convicted of a crime. They cannot be forced to go to any program since they are innocent until found guilty. Another interesting fact is that when we toured the jail we were told that about half the inmates had been through some alternative program and had been arrested for another crime. While these people wait for their trails they deserve a safe, clean place to stay where there is adequate space for classrooms, medical care, exercise and visits with family and lawyers. A new jail was absolutely necessary, while also pursuing alternatives to incarcerating all these people.
Once convicted of a crime the inmates are sent to state prisons. I was told by Major Deborah Montgomery that the average stay for an inmate in the jail is about 15 days. Having space for substance abuse and mental healthcare is important as a start, but for most inmates it can only provide an introduction to the program. As the article reports, the increased use of the electronic-monitoring program is one good way to keep the jail population down, but it is not appropriate for everyone.
In the end we believe the new jail was necessary, but we hope it will never become full or overcrowded and that many people will be offered a chance at some alternative program.
Sue Jezorek, Greensboro
BRINGING DA NOISE
Great work on the alleged “noise problem” and Centre Pointe [“Roy Carroll says jump, city springs into action”; March 21, 2012; by Eric Ginsburg]. From the get-go I thought it was embarrassing to see city council so involved, and the mayor — who lives in the building — absolutely should have recused himself. As for Carroll, [it’s] a classic case of someone with clout and connections playing the bully. I try to stay abreast of city goings on, and enjoy your coverage. Keep up the good work!
Robert Malekoff, Greensboro
COMFORTING THE AFFLICTED
I wanted to personally thank you for your article [“Elderly and disabled threatened by Medicaid cut”; April 11, 2012; by Jordan Green]. The residents and family members of Danby House Assisted Living and Memory Care truly appreciate the research and time that you put into this.
We will definitely look to you and YES! Weekly to keep this story alive as it unfolds.
Nina Warwick-Joyner, Winston-Salem
ALL WORK AND NO PLAY
Meant to write earlier but you know how it goes.... I just wanted to let you know that I immensely appreciated your article in about working jobs vs. doing your passion and something you love [“Words to live by”; by Eric Ginsburg; March 21, 2012]. I deal with and think about this daily. I currently live in Greensboro but work in Martinsville, Va. because it was the first job I found after moving here to the Triad; and I have never felt more like a rat on a wheel in my life. I am abolsutley determined to find a way to free myself at some point and spend my time doing something that I am passionate about and that allows me to express my creative gifts vs. something that does nothing more to pay the bills.
Life shouldn’t be like this! Americans are turning into total zombies with this 9-5 work stuff and it sucks! I could go on and on for days, and actually wrote a poem on this a while back. I definitely am working on an exit strategy too, and just wanted to let you know that your article inspired me! Keep up the good work!
Holly Johnson, Greensboro
I have had the pleasure of attending several political meetings and rallies in the company of Jeremy Williams, who is a candidate for Guilford County Commissioner in District 6. Jeremy possesses, in abundance, the qualities that make for a fine representative: a gift for articulating clearly and concisely one’s vision of government, a temperate disposition and a firm reliance upon common sense.
Jeremy believes in limited government and the eradication of wasteful spending — a philosophy that maximizes individual liberty. He opposes tax incentives to specific industries or companies. Rather than extending “corporate welfare” to particular entities, Jeremy would work to eliminate the excessive taxation and burdensome regulations that prompt potential new businesses to locate elsewhere. He would strive to create an environment that is friendly to every enterprise, rather than a chosen few.
Because he has lived in High Point for more than 20 years, Jeremy is intimately acquainted with the 6th District, its citizens and their causes. A vote for Jeremy Williams is a vote for individual liberty, common sense, and limited government. For these and several other reasons, Jeremy Williams is the ideal candidate for county commissioner in District 6.
Charles Davenport Jr., Greensboro
It is more important than ever to re-elect Congressman Howard Coble. His experience, accessibility and ranking power in Congress are exactly what our hurting country needs to get our economy back on track. In all the years I have known Howard Coble and called on him, he immediately picks up the phone and gets things done. Howard is fit and capable, and he responds promptly to constituent needs with incredible care and concern. We are extremely blessed to have someone as steady and reliable as him currently serving our country and representing us in Congress.
He is the only member of the US House of Representatives to not accept the full congressional pension package and continuously votes against congressional pay raises. Congressman Coble leads by example and is an avid critic of wasteful spending. We need Howard Coble fighting for us more than ever. I hope you’ll join me in supporting Congressman Coble on May 8.
Dr. Don Moore, Madison
I have read with interest your articles on challengers to Congressman Howard Coble of the 6th District. His primary opponents cite age, effectiveness, and “been there too long” as reasons to vote for them. I totally disagree. The experience he has gained through his 14 terms of service cannot be disputed. Coble has consistently earned the high ratings from taxpayer organizations and has voted consistently for conservative fiscal policies, and he rarely misses a vote. He has long supported Congressional pension reform and is one of the few members of Congress who has refused to accept the pension. Coble is noted for having the best constituents’ services in NC. His accessibility to his constituents, regardless of political party, is beyond compare. Working in Washington in the US House requires team playing and discipline. One member is just that: one of 435. Coble has been an effective legislator through compromise and his ability to work well with other Members of Congress.
When Congressman Coble is in the District, he is constantly travelling from one end of the 6th District to the other. He may be a few years older than his opponents, but I’ll bet he can run circles around them on any given day. Let’s send him back to Washington for another two years.
Chris Beaman, Greensboro
The 2012 election promises to be pivotal as we spiral down a dangerous path of reckless spending without regard to the consequences for our children and grandchildren. It is a time fraught with danger in a dangerous world.
We must have firmness in the face of chal lenges:
Howard Coble remains a beacon of fiscal responsibility against Washington’s reckless economic policies. We need someone in whom we can place our trust; Howard Coble is an individual of unquestioned honesty - his integrity is beyond reproach. We need an individual who is devoted to protecting us from our enemies; Howard Coble, a retired career military officer, fits the bill in every conceivable way.
Howard Coble is one who will work with the Congressional leadership to promote and secure a sound future for us and our children. A vote for Howard Coble is a vote for honesty, sensible leadership and fiscal responsibility.
Bill Knight, Greensboro
Remember when President Obama was heard telling Russian President Medvedev that he would “have more flexibility” after he was reelected to a second term? Did that send a cold shiver down your spine like it did mine? The very thought that President Obama would have no counter-check to his liberal agenda in his second term should frighten any conservative voter. But then, I thought, we do have a way to stop Obama if he gets re-elected.
We can elect conservative leaders who will do all that they can to stop his far-left agenda. Those of who are fortunate enough to live the 6th District already have such a leader in Congressman Howard Coble. We are lucky that when the president put forth crazy ideas such as stimulus spending or government control of our healthcare system, Congressman Howard Coble was already on the job and voted no. No matter who you support in the Republican presidential primary, if Barack Obama gets a second term, we must all rally behind Howard Coble. If a Republican gets elected president, that will be great, and Howard Coble will be there to work with him. More importantly, if President Obama gets a second term, Congressman Howard Coble will be there to say no and restore some fiscal sanity to Washington.
John Morris, Greensboro, NC
No one knows conservatism better than W. Douglas Williams. And he believes, as do I, that Guilford County is in desperate need of a healthy, innovative dose of it. Doug is a small business owner, husband of 20-plus years, father to one HPU student and one Southeastern High student, a church staff member, and a long-time resident of District 4.
Doug served three terms on the Board of Equalization and Review, charged with hearing tax appeals. This sharpened his understanding of the burdens placed upon taxpayers by the current spend-and-tax Board of County Commissioners. He is running in District 4 to put taxpayer representation back on the BoCC agenda.
The entire county will benefit from Doug’s representation. The “old” District 4 residents are used to conservative representation. The “new” part (Lake Jeanette) will find him a breath of fresh air. I urge all residents to acquaint themselves with W. Doug Williams and support him in his endeavor to infuse common sense conservatism into the Guilford County BoCC.
Doug beautifully articulates the needs of average taxpayers. I hope you’ll vote him for District 4 and all Guilford County.
Tina Forsberg, Greensboro