Teach your inmates well
Regarding "Getting an Education Behind Bars" (8/14/09), I want to acknowledge the necessary work and commitment that Jack Rice and the staff and instructors at Oakhill provide to one of Wisconsin's most underserved populations. But I believe the resources allocated for degree and vocational programs at Oakhill and other Wisconsin correctional facilities fall unconscionably short of the need.
The educational programs Oakhill provides have the funding to only partially address the most basic needs for a limited number of inmates. Even more than those of us on the "outside," people back in the community from prison (which 98% of Oakhill prisoners eventually do) need skill sets that make them employable.
Our politicians are often afraid to talk about prisons outside of the "tough on crime" rhetoric that gets pulled out at election time. It is our responsibility as community members and constituents who value safety to tell our representatives that we support increased funding for education in Wisconsin prisons.
What about the animals?
I was happy to see the cover of your Aug. 14 issue, "The Fight Against Factory Farms," but was disappointed that Roger Bybee made no mention of the suffering of the cows, pigs and chickens who live and die within the confines of these farms.
How can we love and defend our companion animals yet not be bothered by the suffering of these other animals? Their pain, suffering and fear is no different from a dog's or ours, for that matter.
Criticism of factory farms because of their impact on humans is narrow-minded and speciesist. As Albert Schweitzer wrote, "Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace."
Lyn Pauly, executive director, Alliance for Animals
Roger Bybee cites a report that states, "The current industrial farm animal production system often poses unacceptable risks to public health, the environment, and the welfare of the animals." Unfortunately, this is the only time the article hints at what factory farming might be like for the actual animal "units" being "produced." For this, readers can go to www.meetyourmeat.org. What they see may cause them to seek less violent nourishment.
Farm animals have no legal protection from cruelties - neglect, mutilation, genetic manipulation, violent slaughter - that would be illegal if inflicted on dogs or cats. Yet they are no less intelligent or capable of feeling pain.
They are routinely crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other confinement systems. And then they're crowded onto trucks and transported over many miles through all weather extremes to the slaughterhouse, where they'll have their throats slit, often while fully conscious, or be plunged into scalding water to remove hair or feathers.
Take a stand against cruelty to animals by switching to a vegetarian diet: You will save more than 100 animals a year.
I read with disbelief the statement that 714 dairy cows are equivalent to 1,000 animal units. Medical researchers refer to the tortured subjects of their experiments as animal "models" but now there are animal units? What is wrong with us? All animals, including humans, are members of the animal kingdom and should be treated with respect and dignity...the madness of factory farming needs to stop.
Other than that...
It was with much interest that I read Roger Bybee's "The Fight Against Factory Farms." The story bounces around facts and innuendo to drive home a point of "family farms" versus "factory farms." If only the reality were so clear.
Of the seven CAFOs [Confined Animal Feeding Operations] mapped out in northern Dane County, five are family owned - i.e., parents and sons or daughters and even grandchildren involved usually in family corporations. These "factory farms" have been in operation for generations; they are not some outside investor's dream project. Neither "family farms" nor Dane County's "factory farms" want to destroy the environment.
(Disclaimer: I am a dairy veterinarian at Waunakee Veterinary Service. I make my living because of the dairy farmers of Dane and surrounding counties. Thank you to those hardworking folks.)
Barry Kleppe, Waunakee
What a surprise that Laurie Fischer, the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association's executive director, refused an interview. Typically, she proudly sings praises to the Livestock Siting Law, which unfairly promotes the CAFO industry over the rights of local communities to protect public and environmental health. In 2007, Fischer made time to testify before the Vernon County Board as it considered passage of a moratorium on CAFOs.
MilkSource, the manager of the Rosendale mega-dairy, is represented on the DBA board by Jim Ostrom. Ostrom weighed in on Vernon County's current fight to require an Environmental Impact Statement for a 3,200 cow dairy. He cited his company's legal expenses and engineering fees and said an EIS "will waste precious resources at a time that our economy and our country cannot afford such waste."
Dane County residents, if you organize against factory farms, get used to such distortions of reality.
Sara Martinez, Viroqua
Another view on med story
We at NAMI were pleased that you wrote the article. We feel you have opened a dialogue among community members about mental illness and the various ways people with mental illness use to remain healthy and whole.
This dialogue is needed to help break the stigma associated with mental health conditions. We admire your courage to talk about alternative methods. We thank you for bringing attention to this issue and welcome the continued dialogue.
We would like the community to know that NAMI can be used as a resource for people with mental illness and their families and friends.
Corinda Rainey-Moore, president, NAMI Dane County
Make that Barrett's alleged assailant
I couldn't help but notice a regrettable bit of journalistic carelessness in your Aug. 21 issue. It appeared in "The Week in Review" column dealing with the Aug. 15 attack on Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Describing the assault at the Wisconsin State Fair, the writer referred to Barrett's "20-year-old assailant." Based on a cross-reference of other media sources, it was easy for me to figure out you were referring to the suspect, Anthony J. Peters. Peters has not been convicted of this offense, at least not yet.
I'm not an unabashed fan of the United States' "criminal justice system." However, one thing that is positive about our common law tradition, in contrast to a number of other legal codes in use worldwide, is its presumption of innocence. Wouldn't it have been more prudent to describe Mr. Peters as Barrett's "alleged assailant"?
Even in the most heinous crimes, the suspect should be extended all the protections of due process.
Dan A. Goldstein
With a free-thinking and rather heroic sister like Heidi Nass ("Taking It Personally," 8/7/09), you would think [State Rep.] Steve Nass would have developed some tolerance for those who think differently, and more, than he does.
You would think....