• The Canton Repository, Nov. 12
In the movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” the characters “Red” Redding and Brooks Hatlen are released from prison and attempt to re-enter society with little more than a set of clothes and the address of an apartment.
They cannot comprehend what to expect from life “on the outside.” No structure exists to show them how to adapt to their new freedoms, how to handle the pressure of self-reliance or how to resist the temptation of falling back into the only lives they really know. ..
In too many instances, real-life 2017 America is not far enough removed from Hollywood’s take on 1950s and 1960s America where felons are concerned: little forethought, little compassion, little chance of success outside of an institution. …
In Columbus, state leaders and criminal justice experts announced the launching of a new effort to reduce Ohio’s prison population through an examination of crime, courts, probation and incarceration. The Associated Press reported that a yearlong study by the Council of State Governments Justice Center will analyze thousands of records to examine how sentences imposed for serious crimes affect not only prison populations but also life after prison. …
As a society, we cannot incarcerate our way out of our existing challenges, particularly drug abuse and addiction. When felons have served their time, we need systems in place to make their re-entry more seamless and less likely to result in recidivism and a return to prison.
• The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Nov. 12
As Congress’ 2017 calendar ticks down, Republican leaders are rushing to enact high-stakes tax changes, with the House GOP tax plan already voted out of committee on partisan lines, and a full House vote possible soon. GOP leaders are hoping for a final vote on a House-Senate compromise after the Thanksgiving break.
That’s wrong and self-defeating. Ohio’s senators — Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman — along with the state’s bipartisan House delegation, including U.S. Reps. Jim Renacci, Marcia Fudge, Dave Joyce, Marcy Kaptur, Bob Gibbs, Tim Ryan and others, must use their influence to slow the process down.
Federal tax reform is too important to be pushed through on a narrow, partisan basis. The process needs to be more transparent, bipartisan and with a longer timeline to allow for full debate and to make sure the plan is not larded with hidden giveaways to win votes.
Given the policy implications in terms of the national debt, charitable giving, middle-class finances, the accessibility of higher education— not to mention the tax plan’s potential impact on U.S. economic performance and jobs — there must not be a rush to passage with inadequate consideration of the consequences. …
To pass true tax reform, slow the process, release all details and widen the voices involved.
• The (Toledo) Blade, Nov. 12
It has been well-established that stemming the opioid epidemic requires a dual focus on law enforcement and rehabilitation.
But there is another area that should not be undervalued: education.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recognizes this. In his 12-point plan to attack the problem that he recently announced, he recommended that the state implement drug education in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Many students do not recognize the addictive power of opioids. A typical abuser of opioids, or heroin and fentanyl, did not begin his addiction by shooting heroin into his arm. It began with a prescription to deal with a football injury or to ease pain from having wisdom teeth extracted.
Educating students, at least, alerts them to the danger and makes them aware of the early signs. It can also destigmatize drug addiction. …
Law enforcement and rehabilitation are the key players in the opioid fight. But educational institutions must school the young in the dangers our children face.
• The Lima News
Veterans Day has become extra special to Americans.
We saw that Saturday and throughout the week as people went out of their way to thank military veterans for their service. Some folks even quietly paid the dinner bills of veterans at local restaurants.
Naturally, it makes one feel good to perform such gestures, as it should. But all is not well for many of those who have served our country. …
We’re talking about suicide and the ugly stigma that is attached to it.
With 2.8 million service members deployed since 2001, veterans and their families are facing unique challenges abroad and at home. As many as one-fifth of those who have served in the global war on terror have post-traumatic stress disorder, and approximately one in five have a traumatic brain injury.
The end result: Nearly 20 percent of all adult suicide deaths in the United States are by military veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. …
It’s why suicide prevention efforts by people such as state Rep. Marlene Anielski of the Cleveland area are so important. …
Anielski is committed to putting together a comprehensive plan which features primary prevention, access to treatment, and post-intervention support. She helped get $2 million appropriated for suicide prevention efforts, including the expansion programs on college campuses.
People need to understand there is hope if they’ll only reach out for it.
It must be made clear that getting help for mental illness is a sign of strength, not weakness.