Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | MAY 06, 2013 5:00 AM

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Who’s extreme?

I am writing this, not in response to the entire article that appeared in the DI May 1, but more specifically to the comments made by Jill June, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. In the editorial the DI ran, June stated that the amendment stating that personhood began at conception was “an extreme amendment” “far out of the mainstream and could have dangerous consequences.”

I have numerous issues with this line of argument. First of all, June represents an organization that has found itself in hot water numerous times in the past few weeks for comments made over its stance on abortion in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell trial currently underway in Philadelphia. A video has surfaced of a lobbyist for the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates just over a month ago during a hearing in the Florida Legislature that in the case of a live-birth abortion, “any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician,” leaving the option of infanticide open.

Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania was told of the conditions in the Gosnell abortion clinic and encouraged their clients to go to the Department of Health, but the organization itself did nothing to address the issue. Planned Parenthood, in my mind, is in no position to be lecturing others on “extreme positions” when it comes to abortion.

Not to mention it disregards that life beginning at conception is a belief held by many Christians and is a growing medical consensus (see Rachel Warren’s article “Pro [Whose?] Choice,” Chapman Law Review).  

The issue of abortion continues to be an extremely divisive issue and statements such the ones made by June do little to advance the argument.

Jacob Bourgeois
Iowa City resident

Vote YES on justice center

I am so proud to live in a community that feels it is important to have a safe and easily accessible courthouse that meets the guidelines for the Americans with Disabilities Act. A courthouse with enough courtrooms to give our citizens a fair and speedy trial; a courthouse that has enough room so witnesses and prisoners can be separated; a courthouse in which people feel safe reporting for jury duty or going to vote.

I am also proud to live in a community that feels it is important to serve all of its citizens, even those in jail. I think it is so important to be able to offer drug and alcohol rehab, mental-health services, money-management and job-skill classes to those who are incarcerated. I think it is important for prisoners’ families to be able to visit, which is often difficult if the prisoner is being housed in a different county.

We do not have those things yet, but we will with the passage of the justice center. Please join me in being proud of our community and vote YES on Tuesday.

Karla Smith
Iowa City resident

I believe that many in our community have the misperception that Johnson County tends to lock up more people than most other counties. In fact, we have one of the lowest incarceration rates in the nation. We’re also well below the national average in racial disparity, according to the Sentencing Project.

For a county population of our size, the national average is approximately 930 people incarcerated. Even if we look at the lower number of jail-only populations, the average would be about 313 people incarcerated. According to the 2012 Johnson County Sheriff’s Annual Report, our average incarceration rate was 145 in 2012.

Considering our growing county population and increasing national incarceration rates, then why are we among the nation’s best?  Because we have numerous jail-alternative and diversion programs, as well as initiatives to reduce recidivism for those who are already in jail.

Despite our low incarceration rate, at times our demand is as high as 200. So the wonderful programs we have to offer — in the jail facility and elsewhere in our community — are only accessible to 92 inmates — our current jail’s capacity. That’s a tragedy that puts our overflow at greater risk of recidivism.

A NO vote on Tuesday will limit the positive impact of our diversion programs, limit inmate access to legal services, and continue to send inmates away from family.

On Tuesday, please vote YES for the justice center.

Greg Johnson
Iowa City resident

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