<b>What's the bottom line?</b>
EDITOR: Before I vote for any more elected officials in Sonoma County ("Wysocky to seek county's top fiscal post," Tuesday), I want to know what their potential retirement package is worth. After being blindsided by the former tax collector, Rod Dole, who retired nearly a decade before us mere workers who are supporting his $250,000 a year pension, I want to know the bottom line. I am sick of elected officials lining their pockets at our expense.
<b>Too many prisons</b>
EDITOR: Chuck Galleta ("Build more prisons," Letters, Thursday) correctly observes the collapse of the American justice system, but his proposed solution is as shortsighted as saying the response to a plague outbreak should merely be to build more coffins.
The number of prisoners in the U.S. has increased a staggering 400 percent since 1980, and beyond lining the pockets of the influential for-profit prison industry, this rampant growth has done nothing to help public safety. In fact, the release of violent offenders (7.4 percent of the prison population) wouldn't even have become necessary if we had not crammed our new prisons with drug addicts and the mentally ill even as we slashed the treatment programs, continuing education and psychiatric care in those same facilities.
Rather than continue down this self-destructive path of locking away historically unprecedented percentages of our society, we should be looking to rebuild the entire system.
Unless we accept a premise that Americans are somehow intrinsically and irredeemably more criminal than the rest of the world, perhaps we should look to our allies — every European country somehow enjoys substantially lower incarceration and recidivism rates at a fraction of the cost to taxpayers.