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April 7, 2016     Clinch Valley Times
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April 7, 2016

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Page 2 CLINCH VALLEY TIMES St. Paul, Va. Thursday, April 7, 2016 Of sh sealing wax.. Ann Young Gregory Literacy--and~or higher education? Reprinted from April 19, 2007 house the nation's criminals. It occurred to me some time ago and I thought about Did you watch "60 Minutes'r on CBS Sunday night? it again on Sunday while watching the "60 Minutes" One of the segments dealt with a remarkable program segment, that we're going at this whole thing incorrect- which is offered to prisoners at several of New York's ly. As a society, we watch many of these people who prisons by Bard College, a small private school located end up costing us thousands a year while they languish in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. in prison--we watch them as they're born, grow up, Although as recently as 1982, over 150 college pro- drop out of school, go on the street, become drug grams existed in prisons throughout the United States, addicts and/or dealers or thieves or murderers or some yet in 2001, fewer than 12 could be found. The federal combination thereof. government once offered prisoners throughout the Some of these people are caught, charged, prosecut- country access to Pell Grants so they could pursue ed and convicted. True, some go to local jails for brief classes at the college level, so the 1982 total of 150 pro- periods before they're released, but the really bad ones grams was possible. However, the passage and signing generally go to state or federal prisons, depending upon of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act their crimes. And that's when we start paying their of 1994 struck down that opportunity, and right away, keep---and we keep on paying--in some cases for the all but eight of the existing college programs were abol- rest of their lives (and ours). ished. Without the help Pell Grants offered, prisoners Wouldn't it make a whole lot more sense if the coun- since 1994 have been dependent on what the state in try got serious about doing something about the prob- which their prison is located sees fit to offer in the way lem? It should begin by formulating a system to identi- of higher education. While prisons in many states offer fy as many of these at-risk children as possible. Then, (or once offered)vocational classes to prisoners, many while they're still quite y0ung--as young as six of the states which allocated funds for that program months, even--provide federal and state funding to put provide nothing to help prisoners gain college credit, them in well funded, well equipped day care centers According to some cursory research on my part, New with enough caring people to provide comfortable laps York states seems to lead in this effort, for sitting, to read to them, to talk to them, to see that The segment on "60 Minutes" Sunday night featured they are fed good meals and to ensure that they're several prisoners in a New York maximum security loved. These children would probably have :to be prison who participate in a program offered to them free allowed to go home at night, but come back again in the by Bard College through private donations. Interviews morning. I'm not advocating any sort of "brave new with several of the prisoners, most of whom have at world" or 1984 type of situation, nor do I think this is a least another ten years--some twenty--to serve for the Pollyanna approach--I just want to provide an opportu- murders and other crimes they have committed, indi- nity for these at risk youngsters to be: cared for, well fed care that they study bard, are highly motivated to do and loved. The extraordinary care would continue well so they can change their lives, and one of them through elementary school and high school--and yes, even said he intends to pursue a Ph,D. when he is instead of having the states and haggle over whether or released. All were quite articulate. The program is not they should provide $5,000 or $5,500 or $6,000 per impressive, student per year, they would have to willingly come up Research indicates that these sorts of programs with $20,000 or maybe $30,000 per child to continue reduce reincarceration rates, transform lives, create the kind of care each would need for as long as he or she safer prisons and reduce the need for tax dollars to be would need it. And the feds would have to do their part. spent on prisons. All of which leads us to the next ques- After high school, encourage these LITERATE no- tion-that of literacy, longer-at-risk students to seek higher education or tech- More research shows that nationally, between sixty- nical training, and watch them become part of society. five and seventy-percent of all prison inmates are func- With this kind of help, I'm betting that a large percent- tionally illiterate. That is, they are unable to read, write age of them would soon be taxpayers themselves or compute sufficiently well to gain and hold a job. The instead of becoming a drain on other taxpayers for percentage varies by state, Of course, but the national decades. average is quite compelling. Those numbers have long I'm not so naive as to think that crime could be suggested to me (as well as to many others) that there is stopped, but I believe that if we got serious and spent a defmi.te link between illiteracy and crime! If one is the big bucks on very young at risk children to guaran- unable to keep a job, an obvious alternative is to come tee them a good chance at life instead of paying even by one's living illegally, and for that, many perpetrators more money to house and feed them in prisons for end up in prison. Many of them are there for life; those decades--if we did this, then we, as taxpayers, would who serve their sentences and are released often fred save a lot of money. An incredibly good side effect their way back to prison, and then back again. The tax- would be the much more productive society that these payers of the various states and the federal government former "at risk" kinds would provide. are responsible for maintaining these prisoners. The The icing on the cake is that the program would cost is generally cited as being between $30,000 and probably have to be in effect for only a finite time, since $40,000 per year. Some of the prisoners are committed if funded adequately, it wouldn't be needed when the to life sentences. So, considering that there are roughly cycle was broken and the former "at riskers" became two million prisoners in the U.S., do the math to realize responsible citizens and parents, nurturing and educat- just how much of our money is being spent to ware- ing their own children. @ @ @ LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Readers are invited to write letters on matters of general interest to the public. Letters do not necessarily reflect the philosophy or edi- torial policy of this newspaper, which reserves the right to edit letters. The Clinch Valley Times 's too much secrecy in government Letter to the Editor: To the Editor: The staff of J. Fred The Town of St. Paul Matthews Memorial would like to send a special Library and the Lonesomethank you to everyone who Pine Regional Library sys- made the visit from St. tem would like to send its Joseph University such a heartfelt thanks to the wonderful week. We host- Town of St. Paul for theed 30 young adults from new tables and chairs for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania our children's room. We as they enjoyed the are so lucky to be located " A p p a 1 a c h i a n in this town that supports Experience". Our grati- our library and programs, tude goes to Castlewood We would also like to High School, The St. Paul thank Debbie Baca, who Episcopal Church, St. Paul worked so hard to find us Baptist Church, St. Paul what we needed. Methodist Church, Thank you, Morning Star Church, St. Belinda Levy, Paul Assembly of God Children's Programmer Church, the folks at Hazel Jessee, Interim Romanos and the Branch Manager Castlewood Lions Club, folks at E1 Palenque Dear Editor, Mexican Restaurant, the The Tobacco Region' old Russell County Revitalization Commission Courthouse, Terry Vencil (TRRC) was created by the and Team Estonoa, . Jerry Virginia General Assembly Couch, Bobby Turner, in 1999 as a mechanism to Caller Hicks, members of manage proceeds awarded St. Paul Tomorrow, as well to the state from the nation- as Bluegrass Circle, al tobacco Master Debbie Baca, and Glenda Settlement Agreement. Lane. We greatly appreci- Since that time, the ate your contribution. Commission has awarded These students worked nearly 2,000 grants totaling at various places in the area more than $1 billion to pro- doing winter clean-up, mote education and work- painting, cutting brush and force development oppor- trimming hedges, building tunities and stimulate eco- a handicap ramp, assisting nomic growth across the many elderly citizens and tobacco region of Virginia. listening to wonderful sto- The priorities for ries as they learned more awarding these grants are about our area. They derived largely from the enjoyed a trip to Breaks Commission's Strategic Interstate Park which was Plan. Legislation passed in one of the highlights of the 2015 slightly restructured week. We sincerely appre- the Commission and ciate these students giving requires regular updates to up their spring break to the Plan. Accordingly, the come to Southwest Commission has begun the Virginia and share in the process of creating its new Appalachian Experience. Strategic Plan. We need We truly wish these stu- the public's help to assure dents the very best as they that the new plan continues continue their education to reflect the emerging and look forward to seeing goals and priorities of them in St. Paul in the communities throughout future. the Tobacco Region. Glenda Lane As co-chairs of the Town of St. Paul Commission's Strategic Planning Committee and citizen members of the Commission, we hoI~e the communities of Southside and Southwest Virginia will join us at two Regional Summits as we begin this discussion with our com- by Lee H. Hamilton avoid disclosure of their and not rely on the old have to shine a bright light munity partners. Our goal We have a secrecy prob- political activities, adage, "Trust me." on the actions of public is to discuss shared eco- lem. This may seem odd to Government contractors Take the question of the officials so that it's more nomic development priori- say during an era in which are not subject to most of U.S. drone program. The likely they'll act with ties for the coming years, the most intimate details of the transparency rules that overall program may be integrity. Justice Louis and we welcome your individuals' lives are on affect federal agencies- necessary, and technicalBrandeis gave perhaps the display. Yet government is even as more and more means, operational details, most famous formulation attendance! moving behind closed business is being done intelligence methods are all of this requirement in his Please join us on doors, and this is definitely through contractors, rightfully classified. But 1913 statement, Monday, April 18 at 1:00 the wrong direction. The 72 federal inspec- that should not be an "[S]unlight is said to be the p.m. at The Prizery in In fact, I'm dismayed by tors general who are excuse for hiding informa- best disinfectant." South Boston or on how often public officials appointed to ensure the tion from the American But Judge Damon Keith Tuesday, April 26 at 9:00 fight not to do the public's efficiency and accountabil- people about what we're of the Sixth Circuit Court business in public. And I'm ity of the agencies they doing with drones. Do weof Appeals put an exclama- a.m. at the Southwest not just talking about the oversee face constant want our resources spenttion point on the idea in a Virginia Higher Education federal government, efforts to limit their access on targeted killing pro-2002 ruling that the gov-Center in Abingdon. Please City and town councils to records. Routine infor- grams? Who determines ernment could not carry visit regularly go into executive mation is classified and who gets killed? What's the out secret deportation hear- to RSVP. If you are unable session to discuss "person- kept secret; members of evidence on which we base ings without proving the to attend but would still nel issues" that might orCongress joke that what who gets killed? How need for secrecy. might not truly needto bethey've just read in a top- many innocent people have "Democracies," he wrote, like to submit comments, carried on outside public secret document was takenbeen killed? The American "die behind closed doors." you may do so via the web- view. And let's not even from the front page of the people have a right to know Lee Hamilton is a site or by emailing talk about what can go on New York Times. Yet they what's going on. But we're Senior Advisor for the behind closed doors when themselves increasingly being kept in the dark. Indiana University CenterSincerely, it comes to contracting, rely on omnibus spending Openness is not a on Representative Becky Coleman At the state level, law- bills -- which are put panacea, but it makes good Government; a makers exempt themselves together behind closed government more likely. Distinguished Scholar, IUCo-Chair, TRRC Strategic frompublic records laws, doors by a handful of lead- Representative democracySchool of Global and Planning Committee Gate underfund public watch- ers and congressional Staff depends on our ability to International Studies; and City dogs, and exempt lobbying with no public scrutiny, know what's being done in a Professor of Practice, IU Missy Neff Gould Co- expenditures from sun- Most notably, of course, our name. We cannot exer- School of Public and Chair, TRRC Strategic shine laws. "While every secrecy extends to national cise the discriminating Environmental Affairs. HePlanning Committee state in the nation has open security issues. There are judgment required of citi- was a member of the U.S. records and meetings-laws, some government secretszens about politics, policies House of Representatives Danville they're typically shot that are necessary to pro, and politicians if we do not for 34 yearsl through with holes and tect, and a balance has to know what they're doing.. exemptions," the Center be struck between protect- Nor is it possible to main- for Public Integrity report- ing national security and tain the checks and bal- ed last year. "In most openness. But the pre- ances required under our states, at least one entire sumption should be in Constitution without open- branch of government or favor of openness. Those ness and transparency. We agency claims exemptions who favor secrecy should from the laws." make their case in public In case you're wonder- Donations to The ing whether this has an impact on real people's Lyric Project have lives, it's worth remember- reached $40,900. (03/31/16) Thanks to all for your generosity. Can we reach $42,000 by July 31? Please consider a donation to The Lyric Project PO Box 818 St. Paul, VA 24283, or online at www.stpaulmain- ing that thousands of emails released in the wake of Flint, Michigan's water crisis revealed "what appears to be an active el-tort by state employees to avoid disclosure of public records under [freedom of information laws]," according to Governing magazine. Meanwhile, there's no shortage of efforts to keep the public from learning all sorts of detail~ about how the federal government conducts business. Campaign contributors increasingly manage to Clinch Valley. Times MEMBER VIRGINIA PRESS ASSOCIATION Published weekly in St. Paul, VA 24283, by the CLINCH VALLEY PUBLISHING CO., INC. The Clinch Valley Times serves the four-county area of Wise, Russell, Dickenson and Scott, with offices and plant located in the CLINCH VALLEY TIMES building,ldi-o 16541 Russell Street. Periodicals postage is paid at the Post Office in St. Paul, VA 24283, Allen Gregory Editor/Adv. Sttsan Trent Adv./Graphics ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS: In advance: $28.50 in W~se and Russell Counties; $30.00 in other 24-zip-codes; elsewhere $32.50. POSTMASTER: send address changes to: Cllnch Valley Times, P.O. Box 817, St. Paul, VA 24283 SINGLE COPY- 50c Classified Advertising: mini- mum charge $6.00 for up to 20 words, in advance; 25 per word after 20 words. Display Advert- ising rates on application Periodicals publication Post ISSN: 767600 Nitl!Qi!!~liil!iiiN :N,:::::::, %iii!i ......... ": ~ ~iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiiiiiiiii! ..... ~: i iiiiiiiiiiiii!i!i!i i!i!i i!i i i i i i i i!i i i i i i i!i i i i i i i i ii!i i iii i i i i iiiiiiiii iiiii i i ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~#~~##~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~#~~~~~~~##~#~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~