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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) The Utah State Prison in Draper shown in this 2010 file photo. A consultnat for the Prison Relocation and Development Authority presented its preliminary report on feasibility of moving the Draper facility on Wednesday.
Editorials: Prison and free rides ...

- The price of prison: Justice required thought, money - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

Freedom isn’t free. Neither is prison.

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Watching statistics that show the average length of a Utah prison inmate’s time behind bars rising, the man in charge of the state’s Corrections Department last week asked the Legislature for $30 million to add beds to the prison in Gunnison. Corrections Director Tom Patterson also wants lawmakers to at least partially catch up the shortfall created because the amount of money allocated to treatment programs for sex offenders — a growing percentage of inmates — hasn’t been increased in 16 years....

...Meanwhile, the State Crime Lab is reporting that the average time needed to process crime scene evidence has risen from three weeks to 80 days. That is bad news for those who want to catch crooks. It’s worse news for innocent people who languish in jail, maybe even copping pleas for crimes they didn’t commit, because the forensic evidence that would have cleared them comes back in three months, rather than the 20 minutes it takes on TV crime dramas.

And that’s also what happens when an agency’s budget is cut 30 percent since 2008....

... Numbers to be crunched include not only the cost of housing inmates, or processing evidence in a timely manner, but also the loss to the economy and the cost to state programs when families are broken up, wage-earners locked away and educational opportunities disrupted, perhaps permanently.

Justice isn’t free. But, if all things are considered, neither is simple retribution.

- United States needs prison alternatives - Jay Ambrose, Scripps Howard News Service

America is sticking people in prison like it's a frivolous contest when instead the numbers add up to a great cruelty that achieves minimal good. ...

- Illinois prison release system deserves new look - Mark Kiesling, Northwest Indiana Times

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- No free UTA rides: City should get compensation - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

If the Salt Lake City Council decides to give up the free-fare zone for UTA buses downtown, it should get something in return. That something should be direct TRAX service from downtown to the university and greater frequency on city bus routes.

The Achilles heel of the Utah Transit Authority system is the long time between buses. That is compounded when TRAX and bus schedules do not synchronize. Nothing is more frustrating for a passenger than to arrive on a train and see his connecting bus driving away from the stop. If the wait for the next bus is 30 minutes, that’s a big chunk of time out of a commuter’s life. If the next bus is not scheduled for two hours, the commuter is unlikely to remain a UTA customer. ...

... We do support the agency’s proposed move to distance-based fares. That would give city riders a break because their trips are shorter.

But long term, the system will never work well until bus frequency improves.

- The MTA's dilemma - Staten Island Advance Editorial

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority doesn’t get much sympathy from New Yorkers - perhaps deservedly so. The authority, with its endemic waste, frequent fare hikes and service cuts and myriad issues that go with running a massive transit system, has earned its share of criticism.

But to be fair, it does face intractable problems on several fronts. ...



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