Common sense

Reading your January 11 articles “Anti-crime measures enacted in city” and “Prison board mulls possible sites for day reporting center,” I couldn’t help but relate them to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day and support for the Youth PROMISE (Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support and Education) Act, a bill before Congress.

King spoke against the triple evils of racism, poverty, and violence, all of which factor into our country’s incarceration rate being far higher than anywhere in the world or any time in our history. Minorities and the poor are disproportionately affected, most notably for nonviolent drug offenses. The ever-rising cost to expanding prisons takes away funding from other key areas like education. While tough talk about harsh sentences may win candidates political points, incarceration is not effective at reforming convicts two-thirds are re-arrested within three years of release.

During the Civil Rights Movement, King did not seek revenge against his often violent opponents, but strove to love and convert them into friends, emphasizing the interrelatedness of all people, and the fact that returning hatred and violence in kind only continues the downward spiral for all involved.

The former article mentions Mayor Campana’s plan to implement programs to reach young people before they turn to a path of crime. The latter article, on the rising costs of our overcrowded prison, quotes Commissioner Mussare saying “Reducing recidivism is the top goal.” It is good to see that, based on these statements, our leaders have their priorities right. In fact, Pennsylvania has led on youth crime prevention and intervention programs, with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency finding that they provided a $5 to $1 return on investment.

The Youth PROMISE Act would be a common sense investment into these proven-effective programs nationwide. We celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, but what are we doing to work toward his dream? One small step we can take is to urge our members of Congress Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey and Representative Tom Marino to support the Youth PROMISE Act.

Tony White

South Williamsport

Submitted by Virtual Newsroom