Thursday Letters: Views on autism, the use of solitary confinement in Florida and commentary in newspapers
Florida Times-Union - 5/16/2019
May 16--Florida must end barbaric
use of solitary confinement
I have been reading the recent articles in the Times-Union about prison reform in our state; I knew there were problems in Florida's prisons but I didn't know how serious they were.
I fully realized the depth of the problem, however, when I read about the excessive use of solitary confinement in our state prisons.
We are in the 21st century -- yet prisoners in Florida are actually being punished with solitary confinement that can last for indefinite periods? For years? That's unbelievable, and it's wrong.
I call on Gov. Ron DeSantis to immediately order the Florida Department of Corrections to remove all prisoners in solitary confinement -- and to create a safe transition to move them to the general population. It's time to stop placing prisoners in solitary confinement until a better plan can be put in place.
Peter Burdon, Jacksonville
There's room for both opinion
and news in the Times-Union
Would someone please advise recent Another View columnist Diann Catlin that there is a well-honored distinction between news and opinion in a newspaper?
News articles are intended to be -- and should be -- objective and "just the facts" in approach. On the other hand, opinion pieces -- such as editorials and columns like those by the Times-Union's Nate Monroe -- are clearly meant to offer readers commentary and analysis. Too many people seem totally unaware of this basic distinction, which in turn causes much rabid ranting.
I for one appreciate the Times-Union's journalistic integrity.
Bob Davis, Intracoastal West
We must address autism
in a realistic manner
The authors of a recent article urging employers to hire more people on the autism spectrum because it makes good business sense stated that individuals with autism may "differ dramatically from one another."
This statement is very true.
But the individuals cited in the article are all high functioning and capable of holding full-time jobs; many of them are well-educated and have performed outstanding services.
The number of such high functioning individuals, however, pales in comparison to the number of those with autism who are not able to work -- a significant percentage of them will never be able to live independently, let alone hold a job. That's why constantly referring to autism as "just being a little different" does a great disservice to those of us raising children who don't fall into the high functioning category.
It is an epidemic.
Last November, for example, the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention changed the autism numbers to 1 in 36 diagnosed on the spectrum.
But while the numbers continue to expand and the costs associated with care continue to rise, services for these individuals keep shrinking year after year. This year there are 35,000 Florida children and young adults on the Medicaid waiver waiting list -- and there has been an explosion in the number of special education classes in Florida and across the nation.
Once these children age out of school, it is often up to the families themselves to provide for their needs. The question on our minds every single day is this: "What will happen to my child when I am gone?"
We must take a realistic look at what has happened to a whole generation of children -- so that we can end the epidemic while also better serving those already affected.
Maurine Meleck, Ponte Vedra Beach
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