Our justice system should shift from punishing people to encouraging their betterment

Thank you for putting an end to the alarmism with your editorial on the parole and rehabilitation of prisoners, and for helping us to imagine long-term solutions to violence.

The criminal justice system in Illinois is very good at punishing people. We have nearly 40,000 people behind bars. Thousands of them are condemned to spend their whole lives in prison. Two-thirds of these people are black.

Basically, we demonized young people from historically oppressed communities and pretended to solve social problems by locking them up.

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But locking people up hasn’t made our communities safer. On the contrary, it has decimated families and communities, furthering the cycles of trauma, violence and incarceration in our most vulnerable neighborhoods.

If we want a long-term solution to violence, we must give everyone the opportunity to heal.

The Acquired Reinstatement Bill is a crucial step in this direction. By granting parole eligibility to people who have already been incarcerated for two decades, he is not letting everyone out of prison. However, it does ensure that people who have already been held accountable have the opportunity to demonstrate that they are ready to return home. It gives hope to those sentenced to long sentences. And that shifts the focus of our justice system from punishing people to encouraging their betterment.

Imagine a justice system that helps people and communities heal.

Shari Stone-Mediatore, Managing Director, Word Illinois

Vaccinate the world

I’m glad to hear that Chicago schools and teachers unions are standing firm to keep school masking policies in place. Masks and vaccines are effective methods to help us through outbreaks of COVID-19 variants. But we must not forget that variants will continue to set us back until all countries in the world have access to vaccines and other tools. We cannot continue to neglect low- and middle-income countries.

Congress must provide $17 billion in additional funding for the global response to COVID-19 in fiscal year 22 spending bills. I urge the senses. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, along with Reps Jan Schakowksy, Bobby Rush, Robin Kelly and Mike Quigley, to support this increase. The United States must continue to muster the political will to vaccinate the world, save lives now, and ensure that we are stronger after the pandemic.

Cynthia Changyit Levin, St. Louis, Missouri

stop gun violence

What can be done to stop gun violence? Ask any citizen on the street who is against gun violence. Ban military weapons from the hands of non-military citizens. Make it illegal to sell guns out of the trunk of your car without a paper trail.

Every firearm owned must be registered. If a firearm is sold, it must be reported. Failure to do so should result in a hefty fine and possibly jail time if this weapon is used in a crime or death.

Firearms sold at gun shows must have a paper trail showing who purchased the gun and their legal ID, which will include a photo. This image can be copied by a copier that the gun show must provide. The papers must be handed over to the national police. Every seller of a firearm, no matter how and where it is sold, should have all the information and a photo of who bought it. Everyone should have official ID. If they don’t, they can get one and then buy the weapon.

We have seen the results of the lack of gun control. As a kid, we saw a murder in the newspaper maybe once a month, now it’s every day.

What does that say to a sane person? No gun control does not work!

Connie OrlandPlainfield