The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on December 21, 2010 · Page 12
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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 12

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Page 12
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State Edition The Des Moines Register eljc 3csilloinc5 itccitsrtcr Din)D!fi) Laura L. Hollingsworth, Publisher and President Carolyn Washburn, Editor and Vice President Linda Lantor Fandal, Editorial Page Editor Rox Laird, Editorial Writer Andia Dominick, Editorial Writer Register Editorial Voting rights part of rehabilitation Page12A Tuesday, December 21, 2010 Requiring ex-offenders pay all fines first is not a reasonable expectation The criminal-justice system should serve two purposes: First, penalize criminal offenders; second, put offenders on a path toward crime-free lives as contributing members of society. This country obviously has achieved the first part. It isn't close to achieving the second. The ability to exercise the fundamental right to vote is one important step for criminal offenders in returning to full participation in their community, state and nation. But the right to vote is among many offenders lose upon conviction for felonies and other serious crimes. Letters to the Editor Read more letters at DesMoinesRegister.comopinion Citizens must step up if state oversight fails With the new director of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals just announced, this gives those with loved ones in health care facilities much to be concerned about. Now that Terry Branstad has requested Dean Lerner, departing director, to leave, the industry is at a crossroads. With a difference in philosophy, family and friends should be vigilant for their loved ones. Branstad wants to pull back surveyors duty and "work with" health facilities. This reeks of conflicts of interest and partnership with corporate business. There's much to be concerned about. If the state cannot protect the most vulnerable of its citizens, then lay folk, family and loved ones need to step up and hold them accountable. Thomas Laa, Coon Rapids LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE This is men wanting control over women Why is it some men think they're God's gift to womankind? When Bob Vander Plaats and state Rep. Matt Windschitl admit it takes "two to tango," and by some miraculous feat they themselves give birth, only then should their selfish demands be foisted on all. Maria Filippone, D O., "Abortion Opponents Simply I How to submit letters All letters and guest opinions submitted to The Des Moines Register must be the original work of the author. All submissions may be edited for length, accuracy and clarity and may be published of distributed in print electronic or other forms. Preference given to letters that are 200 words or fewer. ADDRESS: The Des Moines Register, Box 957, Des Moines, IA S0306 MX: (515) 286-2504 E-MAIL: leftersfdmreg com INCLUDE: Your complete name, home address and daytime telephone number for verification. How to Contact Us Uitda lantar fn4i, Edtomi P9 Eror, !51Si 2S4 8'T3 or Kimjadmreg t0", In some states, that's true even after offenders have completed prison sentences. Most states now restore the right to vote once offenders complete criminal sentences, in part because it is the right thing to do, in part to encourage post-conviction rehabilitation. Iowa joined those states five years ago with an executive order signed by then-Gov. Tom Vilsack automatically restoring voting rights upon completion of sentences, and it was widely applauded. But the right to vote may again be denied to some of Iowa's ex-offenders: While Want Control" (Dec. 12 letter) is correct. It's about controlling women. Ion S. Burham, Washington Will hunting in Iowa be limited by income? In response to Mike Foster's letter to the editor, "Too Much Land Off Limits to Our Hunters," Dec. 12: I couldn't agree more. I have been observing the demise of hunting land available to Iowa hunters for quite some time. Although I do realize some land owners do not allow hunting on their land because of a few slob hunters who shoot pets or livestock, I believe the main reason, short and simple, is money. There are many people from other states with the funds to buy up or lease prime Iowa recreational land and make it off-limits to everyone because they have the money to do so. Many Iowa landowners may let you hunt, but want a daily fee or a season lease. Hunting 10 years from now will strictly be for the rich. The days of knocking on a landowner's door and getting permission to hunt are quickly dwindling, unless, of course, you have a wad of cash in hand. Hunters, when your friends and landowners who have been letting you hunt for years retire from farming or sell their land, be prepared to dole out some big dollars or hope by then there is a lot more public hunting available than there is now. Mitch Hoslar, Urbandala Doubts on DXR pick could be resolved Regarding "Muscatine Lawyer Picked to Run Iowa DNR," Dec. 14: 1 started my 30-year career with the then Iowa Conservation Commission in 1971. Over the years, I have seen a number of agency directors come and go; some very capable and some not so effective. In all cases, however, they shared backgrounds in natural-resource-related fields as well as professional experience therein. It is the prerogative of the governor to select agency heads. It would appear, however, that the Contact a writ an (515) 699 7052 6Mral fax: 515, 2B6-2SC4 campaigning for governor, Terry Branstad said he would revoke Vilsack's order automatically restoring voting rights. Branstad's spokesman said last week the governor-elect objects to the fact that Vilsack's order automatically restores rights to all ex-convicts, regardless of whether they have fulfilled their obligation to pay all court fees, fines and restitution owed victims. Branstad says those obligations should be paid before having voting rights restored. That might seem reasonable, but in fact it would mean that many offenders who complete their sentences each year will forfeit their voting rights for years, possibly forever. Those are individuals for whom it will be difficult, if not impossible, to pay ! TRIBUNE person at the helm of an agency with such a wide array of responsibilities, and with more than 1,000 employees, should have qualifications stronger than "lifelong hunter and fisherman." He or she should have at least significant executive experience and a demonstrated ability to manage personnel. The appointment of Roger Lande appears at this point to be a purely political one. It is only fair to give Lande the benefit of the doubt, however. Hopefully, he can effectively manage and direct the Department of Natural Resources and earn the respect of its employees. Jim Schafflar, Das Moinos We need compromise ever)' step of the way A word that has garnered a lot of attention lately is compromise. As I read the Register's Dec. 15 article, "Prosecute Lenders in Mortgage Mess, Iowa's Miller Is Told," about Iowa's attorney general intervening on behalf of homeowners in the "mortgage mess," this word kept coming back. It just seems to me that if Tom Miller wanted to help folks, he would try to broker a deal with organizations draining money from homeowners. I'm sure county governments, for instance, would be more than willing to modify property-tax payments, reduce assessments, compensate homeowners for overcharges and not charge late fees so property owners could catch up and get back on their feet. After all, if loan modification by "big mortgage" is in everybody's best interest the homeowner, the investor, servicer and the national economy wouldn't property tax modification by "big government have the same results? Gaoraa attVkfcot, Wast Das Mma !(x SAiD NO ReGiFTiNGl) all obligations owed the state. It is challenge enough for a person with a criminal record to find gainful employment to survive, let alone to pay off what could amount to thousands of dollars in fines, fees and restitution payments. Under Branstad's approach, convicts who have jobs and other financial resources might have their voting rights restored immediately. Those without the ability to pay would not. Thus, the right to vote could hinge on one's financial status, which is akin to an unconstitutional poll tax, according to some advocates of full voting-rights restoration. This financial penalty would fall most heavily on low-income African-Americans in Iowa. Prior to Vilsack's order, it was Rep. Steve King, Judicial Vacancies Constitution written for future generations In a Dec. 14 essay, "Fill Iowa's Judicial Vacancies With Strict Constructionists," Rep. Steve King states that he wants Iowa Supreme Court justices who are "strict constructionists," which to him means constitutional construction that does not "evolve" with the times and is based on "the expressed words in the constitution and the framers' original intent." This is a simplistic, self-validating notion that is another way of saying I want the constitution construed the way I want it construed. The constitution contains no construction rules, and the framers left little insight on how they wanted it construed. The framers never heard of the term "strict construction." Likewise, they never heard of the Internet, air travel, automobiles, AIDS and on and on. Yet, constitutions nevertheless apply to these in their modern contexts. The constitution must evolve to be meaningfully applied in an evolving society evolved beyond the imaginations of the framers. That is why we have abandoned and outlawed many of the outdated institutions and notions accepted by the framers in an antiquated society: housing the mentally ill in sanatoriums worse than the worse prisons, lashings, stockades, inhumane working conditions, and soon. Another lecture from Professor Steve King In the Dec. 14 Register, "Fill Iowa's Judicial Vacancies With Strict Constructionists." Rep. estimated that because of Iowa's disproportionate rate of conviction and imprisonment of blacks, voting rights were permanently revoked for nearly 34 percent of all African-American Iowans. Iowa moved in the right direction by restoring voting rights for those Iowans, and it should not go back to blocking a large percentage of African-American Iowans from fully participating in the democratic process. Iowa should insist all convicted offenders pay all debts to the state and to their victims. That is more likely to happen if offenders are able to rebuild successful lives outside of prison. That is more likely when they fully participate in their communities as citizens, and voters. STEVE SACKMINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE Steve King shares his views on the actions of justices in Iowa. We might want to keep in mind that King is not actually a constitutional 3 scholar. He is not even an attorney, but nevertheless feels qualified to suggest that legal education in our law schools is at fault in not teaching how one should interpret the constitution. He uses the term "strict constructionists," which in real-speak means justices who make decisions interpreting laws that are in agreement with his ideology. This, of course, is the same person who is able to tell the experts how to build an "impenetrable" fence across our southern border. It is hard to imagine what it must be like to be so knowledgeable in so many different areas. Jim Thomas, Clivo Also, statesmen must wear knee breeches In his Dec. 14 article, "Fill Iowa's Judicial Vacancies With Strict Constructionists," Congressman Steve King doesn't want judges to pay any attention to an "evolving standard" when ruling on constitutional matters like civil rights. If we followed a similar belief that what was written in the constitution in 1787 covers all possible centuries, contexts and situations, only white, male property owners could vote in today's elections, and the Second Amendment could only apply to muzzle-loading guns. Those who were smart enough to write our constitution knew better than that. Kaith. Oswald. AKoona Steve King

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