Letters to the Editor

By Democracy Readers

Time Enough

Marc Mauer’s “A 20-Year Maximum for Prison Sentences” [Issue #39] gets at why the phrase “violent felon” makes no sense. Many people were violent felons, but now they just want to have a boring life like anyone else. The idea that what someone did at 19 or 20 is who they are for the rest of their lives is very rarely accurate. Also, maybe if we stopped imprisoning people for so long, the state could use some of the funds to make prison more helpful and less hellish.

My husband was arrested for robbery a few weeks after he turned 20. Now he’s 34 and all he wants to do is garden and go hiking—to be outside. He has five more years, and they just seem utterly pointless. The people he robbed have all moved on with their lives. Nothing on Earth would make him want to commit any crime again. It doesn’t seem to serve any point whatsoever for him to be there. He’s even had staff say it doesn’t seem like he belongs there. But there’s nothing that can be done, and in Oregon they eliminated parole for most violent crimes. So we wait.

Emma Arbogast
Salem, Ore.

Morrill or More Ills?

Is privatizing federal land the only way to accomplish what Austan Goolsbee and Newton Minow call for? [“A New Morrill Act,” Issue #39] I very much agree with the idea of reigniting public education in this country, training the workforce, and bringing back the spirit of Morrill. However, why not find the money through other means? I understand their point about partisan gridlock in Congress, but it is unclear why the two parties would agree to give the states a ton of land rather than agree to other fundamental changes in governance.

I’d support raising taxes on the wealthy or cutting the military budget over privatizing land. I can only imagine how many oil and gas companies, Big Ag firms, and real estate developers will be lining up to buy up this land. Our nation is already facing an environmental crisis in global warming, and phenomena like the fracking boom have poisoned aquifers and harmed many Americans. Developers will ruin the pristine wilderness and I doubt build very affordable housing.

Michael Abrams
Waltham, Mass.

Democracy Readers who would like to submit a letter to the editor can do so by emailing dajoi@democracyjournal.org.

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