LETTER: Rosman column off the mark

Friday, May 20, 2011 | 1:10 p.m. CDT; updated 8:02 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 20, 2011

I usually agree with my friend David Rosman’s columns, but if he is serious, he gave the Republican-dominated Missouri General Assembly entirely too much credit in his May 19 column.  He praised the legislature for two pointless and counterproductive new laws.

First, the legislature has now provided for drug testing to be inflicted on recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families when a state bureaucrat believes he or she has “reasonable suspicion” to think the person might have used an illegal drug. A similar program in Arizona, after two years, found only one alleged illegal drug user among recipients of public assistance in that state. There is no reason to believe people receiving TANF benefits use illegal drugs any more than anyone else. This is an example of the pattern of picking on the poor and helpless and apparently satisfies some feeling of resentment among legislators.

David also praises the legislature for inflicting longer prison terms and other punishments for “human trafficking.” He  responds just like the Republican knee-jerkers who think that the answer to all crime is to enact “tougher penalties.” This is the reason why the Missouri prison population has grown fivefold since 1982. This is why the United States leads the world in the incarceration of our own citizens.

David should know better than to encourage such demagoguery.   

Dan Viets lives in Columbia.

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