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"County sued over prisoner's death" was disappointing but not surprising. Ben Fager's suicide in the Jackson County Jail isn't the first. Nor is it the first time that jail staff ignored a situation leading to inmate death and taxpayers paying for a lawsuit.

Poor leadership, poor conditions and dysfunction are status quo for the Jackson County Jail. Sheriff Mike Winters squandered taxpayer money and fumbled the responsibility of managing inmates. Many sit unconvicted and await trial — all are citizens with rights. Meanwhile, Sheriff Winters provides rudimentary advice about staying out of jail.

Also disappointing are the idle hands of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, which gathered detailed knowledge of the dysfunctional jail from a multi-year jail investigation, with numerous inmate interviews on conditions and treatment, exposing neglect, abuse and criminality. The bureaucratic ACLU in Portland swallowed the draft report on the jail with vacuous excuses left as trace evidence. Fundraising often trumps performance.

The contrasting caricatures of the incompetent fool sheriff and the money-grubbing "defender of liberty" dueling for worst performer/biggest money-waster is difficult to watch. The true loser in this race to the bottom is the citizen, who needs both parties to do a better. — Derek Volkart, Talent

Semi-auto firearms with detachable magazines have been around for over 100 years. The AR-15 has been available for almost 50 years. To me it appears that something other than the ease of availability of firearms is responsible for the violence in out country. — Tommy R. Chaney, Medford

The letter writers to the editor concerning Sheriff Winters need to be informed. He is a constitutional officer, doing a wonderful job.

One thing the writers don't realize is that the people in Washington, D.C., have an agenda. They are using gun violence in our nation to disarm our people. They fail to realize that the perpetrators will always have guns and the average Joe will have no way to protect himself. They will start with the assault weapons, then work their way down until they have all the guns of the good honest Americans.

You don't believe me? OK, how about our money? It was at one time gold and silver and we were the richest nation on earth. Now we are the greatest debtor nation. Our paper dollars are fiat (unbacked) and our coins are clad (worthless) and we go further in debt each day to the tune of $1.8 trillion a year.

We trusted them with our money and now they want us to trust them concerning our guns. Pray for our nation and Sheriff Winters. — Gordon DeVos, Medford

So C.W. Smith will now be sharing his wisdom via KCMX, but I am curious how C.W. maintains his conservative bona fides with his listeners.

In 2008, C.W. was making $68,432 annually. But he noticed that commissioners in other counties made more and he was miffed; didn't he also deserve a raise? So the commissioners appointed a three-person committee that naturally concluded that it was essential to maintain parity with their colleagues. And it came to pass that in July 2008 C.W.'s base pay went up to $86,341.

Now C.W. was up for re-election, so he wisely turned down the raise, but as soon as he started his second term he accepted the increase. C.W. was quoted in the Mail Tribune saying there would be a public hearing on the matter but it never happened.

By January 2012, C.W.'s salary had risen to $105,040 plus around $30,000 in benefits. That is a 53.5 percent increase in base pay in 3.5 years, years when many of C.W.'s constituents were losing their jobs and houses. That makes for one sweet PERS pension that most of us can only dream about. — Gregory Ventana, Medford

Last week, there was another shooting, this time on a Texas campus. An altercation occurred between two people and one started shooting.

I wonder if the shooter brought the gun with him intending to shoot, or if in anger, he lost control. The murders in New Mexico might not have happened if the teenager hadn't had easy access to weapons.

I am not advocating for banning all guns, but I don't understand why anyone would need a semi-automatic weapon. Many of my family members are hunters, but hunting doesn't require a semi-automatic weapon.

I have frequently heard the argument that when citizens have guns, crime will decrease. In a study by Mark Duggan, "More Guns, More Crime," the findings indicate that when gun sales increase, homicides increase and when gun sales decrease, homicides decrease. Proposed new gun control is not going to ban guns, it is only being considered to control the sales of semi-automatics.

In a Fox News interview on July 30, 2012, Supreme Court Justice Scalia said the Second Amendment was written to allow the prohibition of "really horrible weapons." Proposed gun control is not an attempt to block the Second Amendment, it is an attempt to save lives. — Carol Valdez, Medford

I wanted to write to thank Medford residents who generously gave of their time and means to help impact thousands of hurting kids this Christmas. Together we packed over 7,300 shoe boxes — filled with toys, school supplies and basic necessities — for Operation Christmas Child. During 2012, Operation Christmas Child reached a milestone — more than 100 million children have received a shoe box gift since 1993.

I would like to thank the volunteers at local collection sites and those who packed shoe box gifts. For many of the children, this will be the first gift they have ever received.

Find out how you can make a difference in children's lives around the world by visiting www.samaritanspurse.org or by calling 253-572-1155.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in this project. A simple gift, packed with love, can communicate hope and transform a life. — Michael Ishmael, Northwest regional director, Operation Christmas Child