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December 16, 2014     Cape Gazette
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I| ~IIAIi i |l I1.~ ~I! ! 8. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 16 - THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2014 VIEWPOINTS Cape Gazette Letters )) Continued from page 7 led them in singing carols and provided the largest homemade cookie assortment I've ever seen! BUt most astounding of all was the generosity by the church and its families in providing an overstuffed Christmas bag of gifts individually chosen for each of the 25 or so children who were there. -They even provided gifts for each volunteer in the pro- gram such as myselfl I am writing this letter because Ifeel this church deserves a pub- UC thank you for all they do for the children of this community. I would also like to personally thank the Bohinski family who helped make Christmas extra special for both me and my Little Sister this year! Helen Flood Lewes Problem-solving courts key to fixing system Of the more than 2 million people in jail or prison right now in America, nearly 500,000 are mentally ill. Source after :reputable source continues to print these statistics, including the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the National As- sociation of Counties, and the .Vera Institute of Justice. Almost 10 years ago, PBS's Frontline :renamed our prison system the New Asylums. A 2006 Bureau i of Justice Statistics report states roughly the same: 24 percent of state prison inmates have a severe mental illness, and 56 per- cent display symptoms of mental illness. A 2006 research study published in Psychiatric Services and supported by the Council of State Governments Justice Center shows that persons with mental illness are twice as likely to break parole or probation as a result of behavioral difficulties associated with mental illness. iFor the good of our country, it is time to stop this absurdity. Pas- sage of the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act of 2013 is the answer. The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act, providing fed- eral funding for Mental Health and Veterans Courts, has strong support from local and national organizations, and bipartisan sponsorship in both the House and the Senate. What it needs now is the full support of voters. Alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders, such as community-based treatment services under the supervision of problem-solving courts, reduces overcrowding in jails and pris- ons, and lowers recidivism rates. Individuals, including veterans, who become involved in the criminal justice system and who have substance abuse or co-oc- curring disorders, are far better served in the community where they have access to appropriate treatment, than in prisons where their symptoms worsen and their chances of re-offense are signifi- cantly higher once released. Delaware currently runs three veterans courts (one in each county), and all are managed on a purely volunteer basis, with not one penny of taxpayer funds. They are coordinated by a group of individuals who saw a need to help veterans in the criminal justice system, and volunteered to take up the burdensome task of running the courts in addition to their full-time jobs. A noble cause, for sure, but now it is time for the rest of us to step up and support these proven methods and actually provide real money to make real change in the lives of our veterans. Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden, who oversaw implemen- tation of New Castle County's Veterans Court, now presiding over its Mental Health Court, is on record stating funding for the courts could help to enforce more evidence-based practices, consistency, data collection of re- cidivism rates, and fund a much needed paid peer mentor coordi- nator position. Along with Judge Jurden, Sen. Chris Coons isan avid supporter of Delaware Veterans Courts. His passionate call to action can be heard in his 2011 press release stating, "Thanks to Delaware's Veterans Court, servicemen and women who find themselves embroiled in the criminal justice system will have better access to treatment that recognizes their sacrifice to our nation." We know identification of nonviolent offenders with mental illness, and subsequent connec- tion to community services and resources results in reduced recid- ivism and improved mental health conditions. A RAND Corporation research study in 2007 confirms money spent on mental health courts, which provide court-super- vised community-based treatment for nonviolent offenders with mental illness, offsets the cost of incarceration. This research echoes what we know: people who graduate from mental health court are less likely to reoffend. Incarceration of nonviolent offenders with mental illness is a waste of taxpayer money and promotes increased recidivism, whereas court-supervised treat- ment leads to reduced recidivism and enhanced public safety. With the Delaware Department of Cor- rection's reported cost of roughly $33,000 annually per inmate, not only is it the right thing to do, but it makes perfect fiscal sense as well. In a status report from 2013, Delaware's Supreme Court Task Force on Criminal Justice and Mental Health recommends implementation of a crisis in- tervention training program for police and probation officers with annual renewal classes, research on Delaware's recidivism rates for individuals in problem- solving courts, and peer support programs for criminal offenders with mental illness. It seems that many of our community leaders are on the same page about what we need to improve our criminal justice system. It's time Delaware's con- stituents from all political parties email or call Senators Chris Coons and Tom Carper, and Congressman John Carney to voice support for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act. Delaware is paving the way for the rest of the country with the success of its problem-solving courts, but it can do better with federal funding, increased awareness, and growing sup- port. Reduced incarceration and recidivism rates save taxpayer money, and problem-solving courts provide individuals with the services they need to become positive contributors to our communities. It's a win-win for Delaware. Christine Nappa Newark Milton comes together to feed those in need The Milton Community Food Pantry would like to thank the Milton Food Lion, the Milton Century Club, the Milton Garden Club, and the neighborhood com- munities and the individuals that have donated so much to make the Food Pantry such a success. The Food Pantry tries to provide enough food to feed an individual family for a few days each week. All food items are do- nated. The week of Thanksgiving, almost 60 families were provided enough food for their Thanksgiv- ing meal, to include turkeys. The outpouring of generosity has been overwhelming. Without the help of Goshen Methodist, The Waters Edge, St. John the Baptist Episcopal, Mt. Zion Holy Church, Harbeson Methodist and Zi0n Meth0d- ist, the Food Pantry would not be possible. Nor would it be possible without the help of the dedicated volunteers who give so willingly of their time each week to sort, assemble and pack the food. The town of Milton has come together to help serve those less fortunate and come together they have. Volunteers and donations are always welcome. Drop-offs can be made at Goshen Hall on Federal Street on Sunday after- noon or Monday between 9 aan. and 1 p.m. We thank you for your kind- ness and generosity. There was a need and it is being served. Again, thank you to everyone who has supported us, and we hope that you will continue to do so, Barbara Wright Shannon Wilcutts Nancy Trask Milton MI )BILE HOME HEADQUARTERS HVAC SYSTEMS AIR FILTERS WATER HEATERS DOORS WINDOWS . SKIRTING AWNINGS BEACH MOBILE HOME SUPPLY 32695 Long Neck Rd. (Cedar Tree Professional Center) 302. 94 7. 4608 32695 Long Neck Rd.