Letters to the Editor

August 17, 2009

New warden brings positive change to RCI

To the editor:

During the past 12 months, there has been much negative press on Roxbury Correctional Institution - justifiably so.

Thankfully, Commissioner J. Michael Stouffer recently appointed a new warden, Gregg L. Hershberger. Hershberger is a 21st-century penologist. He recognizes the value of programs that foster the re-establishment of civic responsibility and rehabilitation that should be the driving force for all those incarcerated American citizens (iAcs) under his stewardship.

I've been fortunate to have several meetings with him where he described his vision for RCI. He wants to create a cooperative community where staff and iAcs work for the betterment of the residents and the institution. Yet his actions speak louder than his words. He has approved for the Life for Lifers Extra Legalese Law Committee to conduct a two-day legal seminar in October.

The first recognized and incorporated group of iAcs from the Jessup region, of which I am a founding member, created the concept for legal seminars. Legal seminars are led by iAcs who, along with the prison administration, invite attorneys, judges and community activists to speak on legal issues that affect the lives of iAcs. Such seminars help forge bonds of cooperation and community support. Historically, where seminars were held, such feelings actually created a lull in violence and mistrust between staff and residents.


Hershberger has the vision to recognize this fact. He and his staff are wise enough to use the influential leadership of lifers with decades of incarceration experience to help make RCI a better community for all.

No doubt, The Herald-Mail will soon publish positive, inspired community-restoring stories on RCI and Warden Hershberger.

Larry Bratt
Inmate No. 168687
Roxbury Correctional Institution

Does GOP have an alternative health care plan?

To the editor:

As the debate heats up on health care and its reform, I would ask what is the alternative to what the Democratic Party has proposed?

To date, the Republicans in Congress and those who oppose any federally managed health care system have yet to produce a comparable bill that would help ease the burden of rising health care costs, increasing restrictions placed by insurance companies and a need for preventive care as opposed to illness care. The legislation being presented is a step in the right direction in reforming a system that is continuing to place more stress on the American family.

In the short term, there might be a large financial investment needed to enact the changes in our current health care system. This investment will work to ensure those without insurance or those who are underinsured are no longer using the emergency room as their primary care provider, we are a healthier nation with preventive care as opposed to waiting until we are ill and will reduce costs with a competitive process for prescription medicine. Many of these reforms exist in the current federally managed Medicare system. Perhaps with bipartisan efforts, small co-ops could be formed to allow small businesses to participate in order to provide additional cost saving to their employees.

I am lucky. I have a great job that provides me and my family with great health care benefits. However, this reform is for all those who do not have what I am blessed with and should be a top priority for our government. I would ask that if you are opposed to universal health care then what is the alternative to what we have?

Think about the issue in someone else's shoes. Perhaps a friend who is uninsured? A co-worker who would rather have a little bit extra in a paycheck than coverage or a family member who has recently retired not yet on Medicare and who is struggling to balance a checkbook. These people are the long-term investment.

Donnie Souders Jr.

Paper presents both sides of health care issue

To the editor:

I want to thank The Herald-Mail for printing the article, "President can't afford to tell truth on health care" by David Limbaugh (Wednesday, Aug. 5, page A4).

Over the last few weeks, I felt The Herald-Mail was showing partisanship toward President Obama. I am glad to see The Herald-Mail prints both sides, and I am grateful that the article by Limbaugh was printed. It was truthful and to the point.

I am one who lost my job and cannot afford $1,030 per month for Cobra. I also make too much for any assistance. My wife is disabled and on Medicare. Now that I am unemployed, maybe we can get medical assistance for my 7-year-old daughter. I agree with Obama that our health care needs a major overhaul. However, government-run health care would have a catastrophic effect.

We have enough corruption and greed in Washington without giving the government control of 17 percent of our economy. God help us with where our country is headed.

Jeff Pine
Clear Spring

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