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Letters, Nov. 13

Cost of early release

The Mail Tribune front page article by Vickie Aldous (Oct. 30) and the Nov. 3 editorial gave $22.4 million as the cost of forced early releases from Jackson County Jail. I assume the definition of “forced early release” are people already convicted to, say, 14 days in jail but released in less, and does not include those arraigned but released on own recognizance before conviction.

It’s important to understand how this figure was determined. In the article it says “Swancutt estimated each early release ... ends up costing society an average $7,126 per inmate.” No explanation how he arrived at this amount.

It appears the $22.4 million total cost was determined by multiplying $7,126 by the number of forced releases in the 2013-2017 study period. Was this actual cost to Jackson County? No. For the cost of crime in Jackson County, Swancutt used costs estimated for major crimes by “national experts,” then multiplied by the number of crimes reported in Jackson County each year. So, an estimate from an estimate not based on actual Jackson County costs. Is the $806 crime cost each resident pays also an approximation using these estimated costs determined from other places?

Janice Koler-Matznick

Central Point

Well done, President Schott

At the fall meeting of the governing board of Southern Oregon University, the board gave Dr. Linda Schott a standing ovation for the work she has done so far for SOU. A visionary, President Schott’s ideas are inspiring, her actions are collaborative, she connects communities, and she has become a recognized leader in higher education both regionally and nationally.

An evolution in higher education is upon us, and SOU is meeting these changes head-on. The number of traditionally “college-aged” students will decline for at least the next decade. Technology and job markets are changing rapidly. Educational needs must be addressed for learners at all stages of their lives — not just upon graduation from high school.

In these and many other areas, President Schott and her leadership team have implemented insightful, forward-thinking practices. Many of these already are producing positive results and others will in due time.

Our community can be assured that President Schott is exceeding our extremely high expectations. The board is committed to supporting the transformative vision expressed in our recently adopted strategic plan, and is delighted to continue working with President Schott to ensure a bright future for Southern Oregon University.

Lyn Hennion, chair, SOU Board of Trustees

Medford

Judge Lisa Greif

Jackson County Circuit Judge Lisa Greif is a perfect example of why electing judges is a very bad idea, and she is a fine representation of the bad joke the criminal justice system in Jackson County is, from foul mouthed, biased and obviously unqualified judges to a DA who simply will not hold any public official to account.

Under Beth Heckert’s watch we’ve seen a county commissioner take cash payments from a cannabis business while in office and a Probation Department chief supervising his own meth dealer, neither held to the same standards as regular citizens. One got away scot-free, the other with a slap on the wrist.

We overpay these incompetent public servants and get zero on our return. Gee, how conservative of us.

R. Daniel Key

Talent

Food for thought

The three-part series in the MT Oct. 28-30, followed by the Nov. 3 editorial ,contained much food for thought. Our criminal justice system has been unfairly and unreasonably overburdened with people suffering from addictions, mental illness and both combined, and our county jail is too small to handle the burden. People suffering from these very serious health problems need treatment, but incarceration is not treatment.

What was not clearly stated in the MT is that the health care system in the U.S. (the problem is not limited to Jackson County) is woefully inadequate, with millions of Americans denied access to adequate health care. Among all of those who need health care, many with addictions and mental illness are among those least likely to have access due to poverty, stigma and discrimination.

Addictions and mental illness are primarily health care problems (not crimes), are very complex, and in almost all cases are pre-existing conditions. Although jails can provide bits and pieces of care, comprehensive treatment is the responsibility of the health care system. Perhaps it’s time for leaders in the criminal justice community to advocate publicly for a comprehensive health care system that covers everyone.

Victor Mlotok

Phoenix

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