Letters to the Editor

Letters: Pa. DOC sends the wrong message; War with Iran could have no winners

State DOC sends the wrong message

It’s time for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to tell the truth about officer-to-inmate ratios. In a recent state House hearing, DOC told lawmakers the ratio was 5-to-1. Seems reasonable. Problem is, it isn’t close to being accurate.

This ratio is actually 100-to-1 or worse. DOC’s number is absurdly based on every officer working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — clearly impossible. When you take into account the varying shifts officers work, the more accurate ratio is 100-to-1. That means in a typical day a single officer is alone with 100 inmates.

Dedicated corrections officers deserve to be safe, and state lawmakers can help by providing additional funding to hire more officers and provide them with tasers. Many mistakenly believe officers have firearms; they do not. Let’s do more to protect these brave men and women.

Our department also should place punishing inmate crimes above releasing inmates. In their zeal to reduce the prison population, word is spreading across the system that assaults won’t be punished. DOC must follow regulations for punishments, place violent inmates in restricted housing to protect officers, and restrict their access to the commissary. Otherwise, the DOC is sending a clear message that assaults on their own officers are permitted.

Tim Walsh, Harrisburg. The author is the executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Corrections Officers Association.

War with Iran could have no winners

In 2003 the United States started a war in Iraq that cost over $1 trillion, 4,424 American deaths and 31,952 casualties. Estimates of Iraqi deaths begin at 100,000. Other results of this war have included the rise of the Islamic State and its brutal reign of terror. The Iraq War was waged based on lies and faulty intelligence. Now we are about to make the same mistake in Iran. After withdrawing from a nuclear treaty, which by most accounts was working, the Trump administration has subjected Iran to sanctions which are crippling its economy. Now we have sent an aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf with dire warnings and are making other preparations for war. This war will likewise be justified with lies and false intelligence of “credible threats.” We can probably expect costs and casualties comparable or worse than in Iraq as well as civil war in Iran. What new form of the Islamic State will arise is anybody’s guess. Don’t be misled! Such a war would be unnecessary, illegal and is in no way in the interests of the people of the United States. One must ask “cui bono,” who would benefit? Do everything you can to oppose this war!

Eric D. Smith, State College
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