Letters to the Editor/Online Comments

BY DI READERS | APRIL 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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Build the justice center

For 13 years, I have been with Mediation Services of Eastern Iowa. We are a nonprofit organization made up of volunteers and professionals who mediate small-claims cases in Johnson and adjacent counties. Our job is to facilitate open dialogues between parties engaged in a conflict.

Over the years, our organization has helped many people resolve disputes, thereby freeing up court time for more serious cases. However, because of space constraints at the Courthouse, it has not always been easy to find a private space to work in. We have mediated in both hallways and break rooms when rooms were not available.

The issue of safety has also been a concern to us many times. Occasionally, there can be volatility between parties, which warrants a sheriff’s deputy to be present with us. It would be nice to know that while we are doing a service for the court system, we ourselves are not in jeopardy.

We are very fortunate that a tragic accident has not occurred, thereby leaving people to ask why a better system had not been in place. At the current time, we all use the same entrances and exits, which have no security measures in place. Inmates brought in from outside also use these same entrances.

We need better facilities for handicapped and disabled people visiting our Courthouse, too. Our current design is not conducive to either handicapped individuals called for jury duty or there for legal purposes.

While the new justice-center plan takes into account the future jail, we also need to remember that our neighbors who visit the Courthouse deserve a safe and secure building in which to conduct business. We need to think about the future of our aging Courthouse and make an investment for Johnson County now.

I urge you to vote yes in May for a better facility for Johnson County and its citizens.

Judy Atkins
Iowa City resident

I share the belief of justice-center opponents that non-white Americans are disproportionately and unfairly incarcerated. I share that alternatives to incarceration should be sought. But using opposition to the justice center to promote these beliefs guarantees a bad decision.

I do not hear opponents claiming that if there were not racially disproportionate incarceration, the current facilities would be adequate. Some have suggested alternatives to incarceration could make the current jail adequate; this I do not believe. Some opponents would not design for the possibility of future expansion; to me it is essential.

Our community has grown. It will continue to grow. We have outgrown our jail and our Courthouse. The current jail’s cells are less than safe for inmates and staff alike. The current Courthouse does not meet our expectations of safety from mass shooters, not to mention accessibility, and courtrooms are too few to allow for prompt scheduling. Injustice.

The new justice center will increase safety for inmates, staff, and visitors. The new jail will meet needs for capacity and allow for future needs to be met. Building the new courthouse and jail facilities together will give people their day in court, not over closed-circuit television, as envisioned in the jail proposed a few years ago, un-delayed by inadequate space. Justice.

The opposition’s notion, “If you build it, they will fill it,” gives no regard to current needs and guarantees — 20 or 30 years from now — regret for today’s shortsightedness.

I am voting “yes” on the justice center.

Dave Tingwald
Iowa City resident

RE: ‘Tilly: Let the rhetoric games begin’

Zach [Tilly, DI, April 5] is right on the jail but wrong on the cameras.

Traffic-light cameras really do result in safer intersections, and the science proves this conclusively in the large majority of studies. If one wants to oppose the cameras, oppose them because they represent a privatization of law enforcement — tickets written with the profit motive in mind as opposed to primarily for public safety.

This is a more complicated argument, of course, but the U.S. model for traffic-light cameras is an open door for corruption, and there have been a few examples to show that.

Donald Baxter

RE: ‘Tilly: Bizarre remedies’

I read this article in the hard print. This article is a bogus stealthy attack on Tom Harkin, a true stalwart of defending the little guy. This article seems to be selective in its reasoning to isolate and slant the complicated endeavor of seeking out alternative medicines. It fails to shine the light on the chokehold of the pharmaceutical industry has on our lives. It also fails to point out that minuscule amounts of monies are spent to research and validate alternative medicines and to conduct clinical studies compared to the amount of monies spent on producing pharmaceutical drugs.

Let's face it, without public money, research in alternative medicines cannot set roots because alternative medicines cannot be patented and cannot produce profit.

Maher A. Josephson

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