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‘Access to Emergency Care Is the Very First Step in Saving a Life.’

A selection of recent letters from our readers.

“Both prisoners and ex-prisoners...must receive 100 percent of their constitutional rights.”

The 1787 United States Constitutional Convention gave rise to the Three-Fifths Compromise count of chattel slaves as three-fifths of a human being...Today, a similar compromise exists wherein states receiving federal taxes, count prisoners as 100 percent human population, 100 percent for political representation in specific geographical districts...Both prisoners and ex-prisoners, if counted as 100 percent human being resident citizens of any state, must receive 100 percent of their constitutional rights.

— Lee Wood, in response to If You Commit Murder, Do You Have the Right to Vote?

“Access to emergency care is the very first step in saving a life.”

You state that there are various forms of Good Samaritan Laws in all 50 states. While true, the statement is misleading. There are only 28 states that have various forms of 911 Good Samaritan Laws that protect the overdose victim and caller and many of the laws are poorly written...How many deaths are too many for legislators to finally realize that law enforcement will not reduce the overdose rate within their states? Access to emergency care is the very first step in saving a life.

— Elaine H. Pawlowski of Charleston, South Carolina, in response to Narcan: It Saves Lives. Does It Enable Addicts?

“There is rarely any mention of the upfront investment needed to stop the flow of people going into the criminal justice system.”

Whenever anyone discusses reducing the number of people in prison, the conversation generally focuses on sentencing reform or reducing the barriers of discrimination as they relate to being burdened with a felony conviction post-release. While those are two very important issues, there is rarely any mention of the upfront investment needed to stop the flow of people going into the criminal justice system, aside from those with mental health and/or substance-abuse issues.

— Khalil A. Cumberbatch of New York, New York, in response to How to Cut the Prison Population by 50 Percent

“I have no doubt that race is a huge contributor here, but also am sure that class is at play, too.”

As someone who has lost a close loved one to heroin overdose (in a New England white suburb) and also has worked with drug users in more urban settings, I am excited by the harm reduction approach these new policies take. I also am wondering about the differences between how we treat meth addiction and how we treat heroin addiction, which are both occurring in white communities. I have no doubt that race is a huge contributor here, but also am sure that class is at play, too, at least in terms of who is pushing for these changes.

— Alex West of Seattle, Washington, in response to When Heroin Hits the White Suburbs

“Why isn’t there more of an effort to try and use the therapeutic/mental health industry to perform diagnostic examinations?”

After reading this article, the main question that comes to mind is why isn’t there more of an effort to try and use the therapeutic/mental health industry to perform diagnostic examinations at the time when a person is initially arrested for the very first time...This, to me, seems like a simple “common sense” way to try and help prevent recidivism by making an effort to “nip at the bud” what problems led to the first arrest.

— John C. Woodson of Phoenix, Arizona, in response to The New Science of Sentencing

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