What others think around the United States
Editorial voices from around the United States as compiled by the Associated Press:
Opposition to the death penalty is not just the province of the political left.
This year has seen the emergence of a new national group, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, which has been assembling a network of like-minded activists since its debut at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March in National Harbor, Md.
The driving principles are capital punishment’s incompatibility with the conservative ideals of restraining government, protecting life and maintaining fiscal responsibility. The political right has teamed up with the left to push “smart on crime” reforms in sentencing and incarceration, among other issues. That same political axis could be key to making further inroads as more states consider joining the 18 that have already abolished the practice.
A Texas poll showed that about 13 percent of the registered voters who opposed the death penalty identified themselves as conservatives. One such Texan is criminal defense attorney Pat Monks of Houston, a Republican precinct chairman in Harris County. Monks said he came to see no deterrent value for a punishment that’s imposed unevenly at an intolerable expense to the public. Monks asserts that a more suitable punishment is sending a killer to a “4-by-8 cell, 23 hours a day for the rest of his life.”
Efforts to reduce homelessness have made some headway in recent years, thanks to new strategies initiated by various agencies.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, has adopted and implemented a Housing First approach that first places an emphasis on placing homeless individuals in housing so they are better able to tackle the issues that lead to their homeless plight.
Despite those efforts, too many West Virginians are still without a place to call home. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has recognized that, and he has moved to revive efforts aimed at reducing the numbers. Last week, Tomblin signed an executive order revamping the Interagency Council on Homelessness, which was created in 2007 by former Gov. Joe Manchin but has been dormant the past few years. Tomblin’s order shifts the council from the Office of Economic Opportunity in the Department of Commerce to the Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities in the Department of Health and Human Resources.
In explaining the move, Tomblin referred to a study conducted by the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness that found there are 3,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the state. Forty-five percent of those homeless people are families, 18 percent are chronically homeless, and 15 percent are veterans, according to the study.
It’s laudable that the governor has recognized this continuing need and put in place a group to address it. This council’s work, combined with efforts already underway by other agencies, should provide a more comprehensive effort to reduce the number of people who do not have a place to call home.
U.S. vaccination programs appear to have become a victim of their own success. Because many parents have never experienced the effects of childhood diseases such as mumps or measles – let alone polio – they don’t always appreciate the health risks the diseases pose and the continuing need for vaccinations.
While most vaccinations prevent diseases that have been eradicated from the United States, getting them for children – whose immune systems are weaker than adults’ – is important because some illnesses, such as polio, are just a plane ride away.
Some parents are concerned about possible side effects from vaccines and decide not to have their children immunized. But not vaccinating infants is dangerous not just for the health of the child but for the community.