Cut to the chase

The only prisoners being tortured in Cuba are in Guantanamo. Viva Fidel!

William BungeMontreal, Canada

Religion column needed

In this past election and, through my work in the community, I have met countless numbers of people who support the working class and people’s movements. Some of them play leadership roles in their communities organizing for peace, universal health care, workers, democratic and human rights. However they are terribly frightened of joining the struggle for a socialist future. They believe that goes contrary to their beliefs and church participation.

At the same time I have met many religious people who saw no contradictions between the two. Bea Lumpkin’s article “Hattie Lumpkin, mother and fighter for socialism” (PWW 7/10-16) moved me. The story, it seemed, also aroused a reader’s curiosity who wanted know if the mother-in-law continued her church participation while still being active in the Communist Party. Perhaps the curious readers wanted some assurance about joining the Communist Party?

Claridad, the Puerto Rican Socialist Party newspaper, had a regular column on religious issues and the struggles for Puerto Rican independence. I believe the time is right to have a column in the PWW/Nuestro Mundo that deals with religion and the struggle for socialism and communism.

Sijisfredo AvilesChicago IL

To Sherwood Baker’s family

I knew Sherwood on a professional level. He came to our office several times a month to check on the welfare of his clients. Sherwood meant to so much to so many people. Many of his clients still speak of him often. One in particular wishes “his buddy” were still around to see how well the Eagles are doing. We passed around your article and felt the same stinging slap we felt six months ago when we heard the news. I sometimes think I see him out of the corner of my eye when I am working only to see some other tall man standing there. We could never understand what your family has been through but we are thinking of him often and wondering why it had to happen.

Heather WhiteVia e-mail

Editor’s note: Sherwood Baker was a Pennsylvania guardsmen killed in Iraq in May. His family members wrote several letters and articles published in various news outlets. The PWW published his brother’s letter, “Mr. Bush, you’d have liked my brother,” in the May 29 issue.

Treating mentally ill prisoners

With roughly one in six inmates suffering from mental illness, the American prison system has evolved into something of a mental institution by default. But mentally ill prison inmates receive little or no help when they are locked up. Rather, they are usually dumped onto the streets with neither treatment nor medication when their sentences are finished. It should come as no surprise that large numbers quickly end up back behind bars.

A recent study found that nearly a quarter of all inmates in disciplinary lockdown — confined to small cells for 23 hours a day — were mentally ill. Their symptoms worsened in isolation, and many tried to commit suicide.

Curbing recidivism means treating the mentally ill while they are still in custody.

The Mentally Ill Offenders Treatment and Crime Reduction Act, which has now been passed by Congress, falls short of this ideal, but it moves national policy along in a fruitful direction. The Senate proposed spending $100 million for a variety of programs. The House agreed to go along with the bill, but only if the Senate cut the funds in half. Such a small budget allotment falls far short of the national need, but the innovations and philosophical underpinnings of the bill make it more than worthy of the president’s signature.

Steven E. CottinghamEl Paso TX

The author is a prison inmate at the El Paso County Detention Facility.

Same day registration

Milwaukee was the scene of an outstanding mobilization. Reports from wards in predominantly minority neighborhoods showed unusually high turnout. Of the first 900 votes cast in wards 300 and 308, poll workers thumbed through hundreds of cards for same-day registrants. Some wards reported upwards of one quarter of those voting were registered there at the polls. Many were first time voters, but many reported having voted in the same wards before, and being surprised not to find themselves on the list. Because of the extremely narrow margin by which Kerry won Wisconsin, it is clear that the election would have gone the other way if GOP efforts to suppress and challenge these voters had been successful.

Gary GrassMilwaukee WI

No surrender

Thank you for a fine editorial on the election (PWW 11/6-12). The phony “values” of the ultra right can only be exposed and defeated through the values of working families, as you put it, “unity and organization.” No surrender!

Ted Pearson Via e-mail

Veteran for peace

Bush’s war policy in Iraq is very bad. Almost every day I’m reading of our soldiers getting killed. Iraqis are getting killed too and we destroy lots there like buildings in their cities. That war brings hardship not only on the people of Iraq, which the U.S. bombs, it damages their economy and killed some innocent people. Everyone should write their representative in Washington D.C. to call on President Bush and tell him they all should work together to find ways to stop that ugly war and work so that peace and justice would prevail!

I’m working for peace in the world! Thank you for working on it.

Tero NikovSan Gabriel CA
The author is a WWII veteran.

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