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What to do with our older prison population?

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In January Cheryl, my wife, had a conversation with Robert Presley, former senator and current Secretary of the state’s Youth and Adult Correctional Agency.

Their conversation focused on several areas, however one that caught my attention centered around the age and health care needs of our aging prison population. One can't help but wonder about the citizens locked up for long periods of time and now are too old to be released back into society.

What does one do who has spent all of their productive life in prison and is now too old to contribute to society or must serve the rest of their life in prison with the need for geriatric care? This is a serious problem for society and should help us focus on preventative strategies for keeping people out of prison.

We, as a civilized society, must find ways to reduce crime and come up with a better mouse trap for rehabilitation once a crime has been committed. The current strategy is lock them up and throw away the key or put more money into law enforcement.

Both of these schools of thought have merit and both are costly, however the later will give society a financial and moral boost. I'm doubly concerned because a disproportionate number of prisoners are African Americans. There are no easy solutions or answers to this current and immediate problem, but I think it deserves our attention and discussion in the Black community.

Change is gonna come in Riverside

With three of the seven city council members not seeking re-election in the City of Riverside, it is a perfect time for the Black and Latino communities to put together their agenda for the city and to seek office themselves. It is a perfect time to draft a plan that will seek inclusion into the governance of our city.

If you have concerns about small business ventures, police services, trees being cut, or potholes in the street, now is the time for action. When I took my first typing class back in 1957, I remember typing “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.”

Today I say, "Now is the time for all concerned citizens of Riverside to come to the aid of their city." Don't wait until the election to register to vote, don't wait until the candidate calls you to think of a question to ask. Don't wait until the closing date for filing, to ask your friend to run for office.

Start now by registering your friends to vote. Start now and ask people you know who would make good representives to seek office. Start now by having neighborhood discussions about your likes and dislikes about city government.

Start now by requesting your pastor to have a citizenship day at church to discuss these matters. Start now by having the president of your organization place these matters on the agenda for discussion. Start now by making at least one visit to city hall and watch them conduct business.

For the City of Riverside there will be “new voices” at city hall, make sure your ideas are a part of the discussion by getting involved now.

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