Escalating prison crisis

The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee held an interim hearing Oct. 25 to examine the status of the chronically overcrowded and understaffed Nebraska prison system. The compelling and sometimes emotional testimony went on for four-plus hours. What emerged was an idea that would quickly stabilize and eventually build the Nebraska Department of Corrections into an innovative rehabilitative/restorative justice system.

We could professionalize Corrections staff. This has been done effectively in the highly successful German prison system. To do this we must pay professional wages and provide professional training and work conditions. Bonuses offered by the state have failed to address the staffing crisis. Hourly pay above $22 per hour (to be competitive with county jails’ pay) would attract skilled, educated, caring staff who want a career helping people rebuild their lives.

The State of Nebraska can make this happen. Last year, $15 million was spent on overtime. That amount could be invested in efforts to support professionalization of the Corrections jobs.

Previously incarcerated individuals testified that high-quality staff and programming led to major rehabilitation and life changes, allowing them to return to the community as productive citizens.

If the staffing emergency and lockdown continue into the holidays with no hope of improvement, staff and residents will be under great stress.

The importance of making these staff pay changes quickly cannot be overstated. The Minnesota Department of Corrections had a similar crisis situation in 2018, and Corrections officers Joseph Parise and Joseph Gomm lost their lives in the line of duty.

Paul Feilmann, Omaha

It’s not just the economy

A recent letter in the Public Pulse from Brian Hickey (“Trump’s accomplishments,” Nov. 4) made several prejudicial claims about Democrats.

The most egregious criticized Democrats who stand for “sex reassignment surgery for prison inmates paid by taxpayers.”

I know lots of Democrats, and not one would stand for these characterizations.

His attempt with these wild and inflammatory accusations is to discredit all Democratic policy positions, regardless of merit, and gin up support for President Donald Trump’s disaster of a presidency. It’s not only about the economy.

Ken Ward, Gretna

Impeachment farce

House Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry more than a month ago. So far, this process has been defined by secrecy, selected leaking, lack of due process and fundamental unfairness.

Democrats’ proceedings are rooted in animus and anger at the 2016 election results. With their new resolution, Democrats are still denying Republicans the right to call their own witnesses, rebut Democratic witnesses or have the same subpoena rights they have granted themselves. The president’s counsel won’t be allowed to be present and question witnesses. All those were granted to both sides in all three previous presidential impeachment proceedings.

As a result, this is still a purely partisan and political process -– a continuation of Democrats’ impeachment obsession that began before President Donald Trump was even inaugurated. This entire process has been contaminated from the beginning, and I predict the Senate will have a difficult time taking seriously an impeachment run in this manner.

And don’t tell me the Republicans won’t support a fair process -– see the impeachment process of President Richard Nixon.

Dennis Swanson, Glenwood, Iowa

Clinton vs. Trump

I am tired of all the Trump scandals or perceived scandals.

Some Republicans are saying this impeachment inquiry is trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election and push the scale to the Democrats in the 2020 elections. I admit that I wasn’t as invested in politics in the past as I am now.

President Bill Clinton lied. But in retrospect, Clinton’s lies don’t compare to what President Donald Trump has done. Couldn’t the same be said then that the Republicans were trying to overturn Clinton’s election?

Because of the Internet and cable, I cross-check news stories. Trump has lied so often that I have become compulsive.

On the summary released by Trump about the Ukraine call it says in small print that this readout is not verbatim. So Trump is lying when he says he had stenographers taking down the call word for word and comma for comma.

Why is Trump allowed to lie about national security, yet Clinton can’t lie about an extramarital affair?

Robert Nunez Jr., Omaha

Country should come first

The first mention of impeaching Donald Trump came seven months before the election in 2016, in an article in Politico. Since the election it has been nonstop.

Conflicts of interest, tax returns, emoluments, obstruction, collusion and now a phone call. Each one has a glimmer of truth, with enough lies thrown in to make them sound illegal. But as each one comes to light they are shown to be false accusations.

So after 2½ years we are experiencing the best economy we have had in 50 years. Unemployment for blacks, Hispanics and Asians is the lowest it has been since record-keeping began. Unemployment for women is lowest in 65 years. The stock market is the highest it has ever been. Trump has improved America in every measurable way. The stock market, unemployment and wages.

All of this without any help from the Democrats. In fact they seem to resist it simply because they don’t want things to go well for America while Trump gets the credit. After Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed, Trump went to a World Series game in Washington, D.C. He was booed by all of the Trump haters, and the owners said they would not sit with him. It doesn’t matter what Trump does, there are those on the left that just hate. They don’t need a reason.

Just imagine if the Democrats would have been working to help America instead of putting their party first. We could be in even better shape.

Kevin Rooney, Omaha

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