Juvenile hall

To the Editor:

Re: Juvenile Hall leaders describe program’s benefits

It is with interest as a taxpayer that I read the article in the Aug. 2 Union Democrat where the probation department, Superior Court and the District Attorney’s Office justify an expenditure of $1.2 million dollar of taxpayers’ money a year to operate for a juvenile “jail” that is not filled and should not have been built.

I am sure in the future that the probation department will recommend incarceration of juveniles more frequently than in the past. The Superior Court will follow, in order as to justify this expenditure of taxpayers’ money. To paraphrase the movie “Field of Dreams”: If you build it, they will fill it up.

For years the Superior Courts have used ankle monitors and home detention to track and monitor juvenile offenders with success. This is definitely a more humane and cost effective method of dealing with young offenders.

Meanwhile there is another article in the same paper about a Leisure Pines man who is taking matters into his own hands to fix crumbling roads in his neighborhood. I am sure he must wonder where his tax money is going since his road is not being maintained or fixed. The money is going to maintain and staff the new juvenile hall

Juvenile hall supporters then go on to justify this expenditure by the term “social super users.” Try googling this term and it comes up in terms of social media. Where they get this term must be from a secret study done by some other vested probation department or social agency to justify their budget. How to predict what costs and course a juvenile life may take is beyond any calculation. They are using it used to justify their budget and this boondoggle.

If this is the type of leadership that Tuolumne County has regarding the juvenile justice system in the next election, the taxpayers should rethink that leadership.

Mark Borden


Homeless camp

To the Editor:

My opinion as to the suggestion that Sonora set up a homeless camp in the area of Stockton Road. Do we need to attract more transients? Providing a campsite will just attract more of them. Why should Tuolumne County be the destination for camping out and free handouts. Our low income working citizens struggle to find affordable rentals in this area and it isn’t right that these people get attention because of their behavior.

The downtown area already has a growing problem with these people. Because of the attraction of free meals at various locations in town there are problems of harassment of business employees and customers and the vile and disgusting things that are being done on the sidewalks and door fronts, not to mention broken windows and other vandalism. Do we condone having our town become a squalid, filthy area that we will be ashamed of and tourists, we hope to attract, will avoid?

For those who want to help the needy there is an organization in our town that is in desperate financial need. Meals on Wheels. Due to major cutbacks in federal funding they are faced with cutting back on the delivery of hot meals to our seniors countywide. These are citizens who live in our community, not transients who will move on to the next area for free handouts.

My empathy and financial support is with the services that help our citizens, not transients who will and are degrading our town. In this day and age we can be sure that the word will get around to avoid Sonora because of the people on our streets.

Barbara Davis


Kudos to the churches

To the Editor:

After reading the Aug. 8 article on the homeless issue in Sonora I was appalled by the insensitive comments of councilman Mark Plummer who criticized local churches in which he stated churches “to a degree are exasperating the situation by making the city a central location” by feeding the homeless of our community and providing for their other needs.

In August of 2015, I suddenly found myself temporarily homeless for a little over a month. Although I was and remained employed during that time, I was very grateful for several churches in the area where I was able to obtain a hot meal, shower and to “camp-out” on their property during my transition period. Along with developing some new friends, I volunteered washing dishes and assisted with cleanups.

Homelessness is a travesty for those experiencing it and which there are many different circumstances that lead to homelessness, some beyond the control of the victim, as was my case. Of course substance abuse addiction, or the more likely cause being that the homeless person’s addiction/mental health issues prevent them from living cohesively in a shelter with others. The issue of homelessness is very sad. If they haven’t, the entire City Council and particularly Mr. Plummer should go to these church kitchens and serve meals to the homeless, talk to them person-to-person to gain empathy for their plight. Hopefully there is someone among those who are homeless who can articulate what they need. In the meantime, our local churches provide remarkable services through donations and volunteers time in food, clothing, hygiene and countless other items they need. I’m very grateful for the services I received.

Glenn Gamble


Bail reform

To the Editor:

At a time when our country seems to be more divided than ever, it is refreshing to see a bipartisan effort to jump-start bail reform at the federal level. But Senators Kamala Harris and Rand Paul aren’t the only policymakers reaching across the aisle on bail reform.

Here in California, Republican state Senator Joel Anderson joined Democrats to help pass bail reform legislation at the state level. There’s a reason policymakers on both sides of the aisle are championing bail reform: it’s not just morally the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.

Like the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017, California’s SB 10 will promote our collective safety and create a fairer and more equitable justice system where someone’s freedom isn’t determined by their bank account balance. Let’s hope they both get signed into law.

Christina Irving


Help homeless rejoin the world

To the Editor:

We know that homelessness has probably existed from the beginning starting with Adam and Eve being booted out of the Garden of Eden.

Homelessness has been officially recorded since year 1640. You would think that in 377 years we would have figured it out. Like crime, homelessness will probably be with us to the very end. However, we have found a place to house those that break the law. They are jails and prisons. Much of the taxpayer dollar goes toward the building and maintenance of these facilities, along with the cost of food, clothing, education, recreation, drug use rehabilitation, medical care and a place to sleep.

Almost every town in the USA has these facilities to accommodate our lawbreakers. The majority of those homeless, which include women and children, that I have talked to did not choose to be homeless. They made “bad choices” or much of their plight has been caused by plain “bad luck.”

Bottom line, they no longer have an income that will pay for housing. We know many suffer from mental disorders and just don’t know how to cope in today’s world. The homeless in our county do not go hungry as food is readily available if they can find the transportation to get to where the food is.

But, can you even begin to imagine not having a toilet readily available when the urge hits?

Do I have an absolute solution? No. However I do have a suggestion. For every tax dollar spent on those that break our law, spend a like tax dollar building and maintaining the same facilities provided to the lawbreaker. Those facilities could be called “The Homeless Hotel & Training Center.”

And like the rehabilitated criminal who becomes a worthwhile member of society, the homeless would have that same opportunity to rejoin “our world.” I believe we would be more successful in rehabilitating a homeless person than we are of rehabilitating a law breaker.

Laurel Utecht