Long Island City: Gov. Hochul’s recent State of the State address sends a message that our fellow New Yorkers who have been incarcerated or otherwise impacted by the criminal justice system have the potential, and deserve the chance, to build lives of contribution to their families and communities.
We applaud the governor for pledging to seek increased and much-needed funding for Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) and reentry programming. The Fortune Society has provided ATI and reentry services for 55 years. Every day, we work with people who are in the process of rebuilding their lives, reuniting with their families and creating plans for their futures while living safely in our communities.
Legislative action is also needed, however, to break down the barriers to successful reentry posed by the stigma of a criminal conviction. It can prevent someone from accessing employment, obtaining housing, securing a wide range of professional licenses and continuing education. Without access to these opportunities, people are prevented from supporting their families and contributing to stronger, safer communities.
We hope that the governor will champion the passage of the Clean Slate Act, which would open doors that are often closed to people with conviction histories even when they have transformed their lives and had no further system involvement.
We look forward to working with the Hochul administration and other elected officials in the coming year to ensure that all New Yorkers, particularly those accused of crimes and those with conviction histories, are treated with dignity and provided equitable access to opportunities. JoAnne Page, president and CEO, The Fortune Society
Bronx: Re “How New York can build housing” (op-ed, Jan. 19), by Jolie Milstein and Andrew Rein: Can housing be built on Rikers Island, either to house people permanently or temporarily for those who have lost their homes because of fires or floods? Virgilio Carballo
Manhattan: There is too much use of illegal drugs on the streets. It contributes to increased crime and violence in the city. Every day, there is a news story about crime, stabbings and violence. We need to learn to live in peace and respect one another for our differences. I hope that one day soon, crime will decline and living in the city will become safe again! Amy Rosenfeld-Kass
Vero Beach, Fla.: In response to Voicer Mildred Manham’s request for an explanation why protester violence is “terrorism,” when we don’t use word that for police violence: I am not a judge or a politician, just a retired telephone worker, but the police are attempting to enforce the laws of the land as well as keep you safe. The criminals are breaking them. Is that easy enough for you to understand? Douglas Weinberg
Bronx: In response to Voicer Mildred Manham’s ridiculous challenge to point out the difference between protesters being labeled terrorists and police officers not being labeled with that name: One group is unlawfully attacking society and the other is lawfully protecting society. But I hope you feel better that you managed to smear an entire profession and were able to squeeze in a Hitler reference while doing so. Bill Reddan
Jamaica: To Voicer Bill McConnell: To my letter about all these folks acting like a fifth-grader smoking a cigarette for the first time and being all giddy and excited, you say the reason is that now it’s legal and the fear of being arrested for possession is basically over. I didn’t know whether to laugh or if you were serious. The majority of people who use it recreationally have probably been using it since their teen years. As adults, every time they made a purchase they looked behind their backs and got nervous during their transaction, you say? I am not a user, but if I purchased an illegal substance starting from when it was illegal because of my age and kept buying as an adult, I think that fear would gradually fade away. Shirley Watts
Staten Island: As a lifelong resident of Staten Island, I want to thank you for publishing Monica Miller’s op-ed about Happy and Patty (“Freedom for the Bronx Zoo elephants,” Jan. 21). I totally oppose these highly intelligent mammals being deprived of everything natural for their entire lives. Keep up the good work by continuing to highlight their plight! Patricia Mathis
Manhattan: My family stopped going to the Bronx Zoo years ago when I was first made aware of the campaign to free Happy and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s resistance to it. I just don’t understand the rationale of the zoo. We have managed to legislate and stop the sale of dogs at pet stores here in New York State (a major contributor to the existence of puppy mills), and the federal government has finally passed the Big Cat Act, limiting roadside zoos from breeding and selling lion and tiger cubs. Years ago, Sea World and the like had to take a hard look at captive whales and dolphins and those attractions have finally begun to go by the wayside. Elephants must be next. They are not meant to be kept alone or inside all winter long. Rescue groups are willing and able to take both elephants! It’s time! Colleen Kelly
Brooklyn: I want to say thank you to the City Council for saying no to changing Administrative Code 12-126. We earned these benefits! Mayor Adams, Bill de Blasio and you have taken earned city retirement benefits to the next level. How dare you both try to balance the city budget on the backs of the city retirees? We all earned our benefits. You will not be getting a second term, so take your Medicare Advantage plan and put it where the moon don’t shine! There are 250,000 of us. Karl Stults
Brooklyn: My gas hot water heater needs electricity to operate and my gas stove has an electric ignitor. How are folks able to use these without power during blackouts? The stove I can understand because you can use a match to light it. I don’t understand the gas hot water heater. Can someone please elaborate? Josie Oliveri
Brooklyn: Maybe it’s time for Gov. Hochul to appoint another Moreland Commission — if she is willing to take the risk. It destroyed several legislative leaders some years ago. And she and Mayor Adams should separately hold press conferences promising to campaign against and primary any state senator who votes against Hector LaSalle, or all but three or four, and also anyone who Andrea Stewart-Cousins endorses for an open seat. Samuel Finkelman
Garwood, N.J.: GOP House members’ rallying cry is to cut essential programs in order to reduce the national debt. How soon they forget how the Former Guy’s first stroke of the pen was his massive tax cut for big business. The national debt increased by approximately $6 trillion! While I can’t argue that some programs might need a bit of belt-tightening, I believe the source of wasted money in this country is fraud! Nearly every month, you can read about doctors and clinics scamming the Medicare/Medicaid systems. You hear about fraud by shop owners fleecing the SNAP program. And probably the biggest of all is nobody in government can account for where all the stimulus money for small businesses went. There are billions of dollars they’re looking for. It’s well past time that a cabinet-level Department of Fraud be created to police, investigate and prosecute offenders. This department would pay for itself in no time. John Deichmeister
Rockaway: It seems like every day, another George Santos lie is uncovered. This should tell anyone who does not have their head stuck in a hole everything they need to know about the current Republican Party. The people who voted this man into office were swindled and defrauded, yet the party does not care. Kudos to those New York Republicans who did ask for his resignation. The rest of your party, unfortunately, did not hear you. Anthony Johnson