Wayne E. Williams, Camden
Time to clean house
Karen Heller's column "System failed, officer died" (Sept. 9) details the incredible incompetence and outright stupidity of our probation and parole system. It's way past time to clean house, beginning with every individual who had a part in putting Rafael Jones back on the streets.
Avrum Fine, West Chester, firstname.lastname@example.org
Smart and tough on crime
State lawmakers and Gov. Corbett in June took an important step in improving public safety and saving taxpayer money by passing the Criminal Justice Reform Act, which will reform the state's probation and parole system to reduce recidivism and expand the use of alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders.
Among the many reforms, the new law calls for a comprehensive community reentry program that helps former inmates make the best use of their skills in seeking employment. It also authorizes county courts to create a program to enforce probation violations by imposing "swift, predictable, immediate and measured sanctions." Low-level offenders will be held accountable at the county level, reducing the state prison population.
The prison reforms are estimated to save more than $250 million in the next five years.
Now, the General Assembly is poised to consider a companion bill, House Bill 135, which reinvests a portion of the savings to fund public-safety measures needed to fully realize the reform goals. For example, HB 135 would establish funding for local police departments for "hot-spot policing" - a technique that has resulted in lower crime rates in other states. The bill also would provide funding for counties to keep nonviolent offenders with short minimum sentences in county jails, saving money by reducing the state prison population.
These reforms will result in safer communities, lower crime rates, less recidivism, and taxpayer savings. It shows that Pennsylvania can be both smart and tough on crime.
State Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf (R., Montgomery), chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
Bernanke's outrageous plan
Ben Bernanke has announced that the Fed will continue near-zero interest rates into 2015 ("Fed unveils plans to trigger economy," Friday). Those who depend on bonds and bank interest to supplement their income have to ask: How long will this war on seniors and savers go on?
What we are seeing is a massive transfer of wealth, estimated at $400 billion per year, from seniors to big banks and debtors. The federal government also gets to borrow billions, cheaply, right out of grandma's purse.
And what about those seniors who see their life savings melting, and who have no bank interest as a safety net to supplement their meager Social Security checks? The lack of seniors' ready cash has to be hurting the recovery, too.
The Fed is destroying the old virtues of thrift and self-determination. This heavy hand is punishing the very people who spent a lifetime making our system work. The golden years are now about cutting pills and dining from a can. It's an outrage.
Richard Iaconelli, Philadelphia