Prison-company official takes issue with column

Prison-company official takes issue with column

The recent column “Prison Labor is Slave Labor” by Fizz Perkal in The Vindicator included misinformation about our company, CoreCivic. Helping inmates prepare to return to their communities is a critical component of what we do. It’s not only what our customers want; it’s also at the center of our mission to better the public good.

In 2014, we made commitments to strengthen re-entry programming unprecedented for the public or private sector. Those goals, updated in 2017, include:

Graduating more than 8,000 inmates with high school education equivalency by the end of 2019.

Providing addiction treatment at no less than a 75 percent completion rate over the next five years.

Quadrupling access to victim-impact programming over the next three years and achieving 2,300 program completions by the end of 2019.

Our 2017 Re-entry Report, available at, provides greater detail on the progress we’ve made.

Creating opportunities for job-skills development is a key part of these efforts. However, it’s important to note that all of our work programs are completely voluntary and operated in full compliance with our government partners’ standards.

Beyond our re-entry programming, CoreCivic launched a nationwide initiative to advocate for a range of policies, including “Ban the Box” legislation, that are aimed at reducing recidivism. While under long-standing policy, we don’t lobby for or against – or take any position on – policies or legislation that would determine the basis for or duration of an individual’s incarceration or detention, we see this policy initiative as an extension of our overall commitment to re-entry.

Unfortunately, much of the information about our company being shared by critic groups is wrong and politically motivated, resulting in some people reaching misguided conclusions about what we do. The fact is our sole job is to help the government solve problems in ways it could not do alone.

Amanda Gilchrist, Nashville, Tenn.

Amanda Gilchrist is director of public affairs for CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America. CoreCivic operates the Norteast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown.

Don’t use euphemisms for dangerous frack waste

The oil and gas industry, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and fossil-fuel promotional groups consistently use innocuous words to describe the toxic fluids that are injected into frack wells, as well as the hazardous, radioactive flowback that comes back out of these wells. It’s to their advantage, of course, to make it sound like these fluids are harmless.

Brine. Isn’t that the liquid in the pickle jar? Saltwater. Isn’t that what’s the oceans? Light oil waste. Doesn’t that describe the last few drops that won’t come out of the 3-in-1 oil can?

“Brine” is an antiquated term for the flowback that resulted from early (50 years ago) attempts at fracking. It actually was saltwater from ancient seas that have been sequestered deep beneath the earth’s surface.

Today’s unconventional shale-gas extraction is a highly industrialized operation that involves millions of gallons of water to which many hazardous chemicals that are known human carcinogens and endocrine disruptors must be added to make the process work. There are biocides, breakers, corrosion inhibitors, surfactants, crosslinkers, friction reducers, gelling agents, scale inhibitors, pH adjusting agents, and many more. They’re all necessary for optimal results, including enabling fluids to travel 1.5 miles down and 2 miles horizontally through narrow pipes (“slick water”).

The fact that the industry, regulatory agencies such as ODNR and industry cheerleaders still refer to frack fluids as frack- water, and flowback as brine, or any other “warm fuzzy” name is at best disingenuous, and at worst, purposely deceitful.

We need to hold these people accountable for the shameless greenwashing of the fracking process. They must properly and honestly call frack waste what it really is: hazardous, carcinogenic, radioactive waste.

Judy Vershum, Canfield

How can anyone profess their love for Trump?

After watching a CBS “60 Minutes” broadcast on Aleppo recently, I felt compelled to draft this correspondence for public dissemination.

In that segment, the correspondent covered the intentional bombings of hospitals by Syrian and Russian warplanes resulting in not only the loss of nearly all the medical facilities, but the murder of over 800 medical doctors, nurses, medical personnel, along with countless deaths of innocent infants, children and adults. Such carnage openly violates the Geneva Convention on war crimes and, of course, all sense of morality.

Now consider the above with our president’s “love” of Putin. Trump’s public esteem of Putin cannot be readily understandable. Putin has over the years supported the president of Syria and is complicit in these crimes against humanity. There is no justification for these military actions.

You may be a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent and possess political principles and positions, but no matter what political party you adhere to your perspective on the moral wrong of murder will always be the same.

For over two years, President Donald Trump has held steadfast in his public statements of admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin. On numerous occasions he has expressed his admiration of him, calling him a strong leader.

I ask you. Do you feel comfortable and at ease having our president expressing regularly praise on this type of leader?

In my 73 years, I have never heard any past president since World War II praise a leader of the Soviet Union or Russia in such complimentary terms.

The United States has tried to be the moral leader of the world. We now have a president who has openly praised two of the most repugnant dictators – the leaders of Russia and North Korea – while demeaning and degrading several of our longtime allies – Canada, England, France and Italy.

Each off us must ask ourselves. Is this the type of leader we want speaking and representing us and our country? I, for one, do not.

Edwin Dolby, Poland

Those with poor vision twice as likely for falls

In recognition of Ohio Falls Prevention Day on Friday, Prevent Blindness encourages everyone to consider the risk that poor vision poses in contributing to falls.

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalization and death among Ohioans age 65 and older, and they are largely preventable.

According to a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 52 percent of Ohio adults 65 or older with severe vision impairment fell at least once in 2014 as compared with 28 percent of those without severe vision impairment.

Unfortunately, those with impaired vision are more likely to experience falls and injuries. Visual impairment, which can include decreased visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, depth perception and/or visual field, has been found to influence the risk of falls. Vision impairment can affect balance. It also increases the risk of tripping or misjudging steps, stairs or curbs.

Because people with vision impairments are more than twice as likely to fall as those without, keeping a regular schedule of eye examinations with an eye-care professional can help avoid debilitating falls in the future. We hope that by alerting the public to the dangers of falls, as well as educating them on ways to avoid them, we can help prevent unnecessary injuries.

Stacey Williams, Columbus

Stacey Williams is president and chief executive officer of the Ohio affiliate of Prevent Blindness.