August 27, 2013

Letters to the editor: A vision of justice, not retribution

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that one day, a people long denied their rights would become full citizens of our nation.

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A woman carries a sign depicting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during an event Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial to mark the 1963 March on Washington. Citing King’s “I have a dream” speech, a reader says his own image of a better America includes a criminal justice system that is focused on restoration.

2013 File Photo/The Associated Press

Today, I have a dream -- a dream for Maine and our nation.

I have a dream that one day everyone, even those who fall and harm others, will be treated with dignity and respect and given a second chance to take responsibility for their actions, make restitution to those whom they have harmed, seek rehabilitation and become productive citizens.

I have a dream that the needs of victims will become a crucial concern of our justice system and that the resources needed for their support and healing will be made available.

I have a dream that we will allocate more resources to crime prevention than to retribution and that our return on investment will not be measured in short-term dollars but in the long-term reweaving of our frayed social fabric.

I have a dream that all children will be taught in the ways of restorative practices and that their education will include sowing seeds of peace and reconciliation.

I have a dream that our prisons and jails will no longer serve as society's primary mental health and substance abuse facilities, but will be reserved for those few who are truly a danger to society or themselves and provide a full range of rehabilitative resources to reduce recidivism.

I have a dream -- a dream that across our state and nation, citizens, professionals and politicians will join together to transform our culture of punishment into one of prevention, healing and restoration.

The Rev. T. Richard Snyder, Ph.D.

Column overlooks earlier alternatives in hip surgery

I enjoyed the Maine Voices column by Andy Young about recovering from his hip surgery ("Gratitude grows stronger during recovery from hip surgery," Aug. 9), and I wish him full recovery soon. My own total hip was done more than five years ago, and is perfect.

I do not agree with his statement that "Had I been born 30 years earlier and subsequently been saddled with an arthritic hip, my only options would have been to gulp aspirin tablets and limp ..."

As an orthopedic resident at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1959 to 1961, I and the other residents helped Drs. Marius Smith-Petersen, Otto Aufranc, Drennan Lowell and William Harris in 10 to 12 "cup arthroplasties" a day. This arthroplasty was a forerunner of the modern "total hip" and was very helpful to thousands.

In 1967, when I started practice in Portland, Mercy Hospital bought the necessary specialized equipment for cup arthroplasties, and many folks were helped. Results generally were good but not as good as modern total hips done today.

Lawrence Crane, M.D., soon obtained permission to cement in a newer Charnley hip with improved results. Forty years ago, I visited John Charnley (the father of modern hip surgery) in England, and this became the accepted and generally very successful type of hip surgery.

There have been steady improvements so that now, instead of being in the hospital for weeks, the patient is discharged anywhere from the day of surgery to two to three days later, and the results are excellent.

However, believe it or not, back in the 1950s and '60s, we really did have more than aspirin.

Lawrence M. Leonard, M.D.

Scarborough could lose say over casino on Downs land

The Scarborough Town Council voted recently to allow casino gambling on the Scarborough Downs property -- a stone's throw from our children's schools.

By adding casinos as an "approved use" in that area, the council ignored five democratic votes on gambling referendums and our 2006 comprehensive plan. Each time Scarborough voters were asked whether they wanted a casino, we said "no" (twice on local referendums, thrice on state referendums).

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