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Three-quarters failed and growing

Whatever we’re doing, it isn’t working. At least that’s what one might readily conclude after reading the recent Bureau of Justice Statistics special report, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010. Written by Matthew Durose, Alexia Cooper and Howard Snyder, BJS statisticians, the report cites irrefutable evidence that prisons in America are little more than temporary criminal warehouses. Their study is based on data from 30 states (including Arkansas).

Refuge renaming is fitting

Although Dale Bumpers disarmingly wrote about himself as “The Best Lawyer in a One-Lawyer Town,” there’s no one around here who doubts the substantial impact former Arkansas governor and senator made on his home state.

Dreaming about a larger field

As recently reported by The Commercial , a local committee for the 2015 Babe Ruth 14-year-old World Series headed by Jim Hill just signed a contract with Babe Ruth League Inc. that will bring the national tournament to Pine Bluff. This will mark the sixth time a Babe Ruth Baseball World Series has been played in the city and first time since 2003. This turn is unabashedly good and the kind of thing we should encourage.

Tramp explores deep themes

Today we mark the 125th anniversary of silent film star Charlie Chaplin’s birth. While best remembered for his character, the Little Tramp, his career was much broader than that one famous visage. He was a director, a screen writer and a composer. Along with other film luminaries, D. W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, Chaplin founded the United Artists production company. Long recognized as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, it’s fitting that we take stock of his legacy.

Wall Street’s flash point

In “The Financier,” his great novel of American capitalism, Theodore Dreiser describes the thinking of his hero, Frank Cowperwood, who exploited banks, the state and investors. It isn’t wise to steal outright, Cowperwood concludes; that would be wrong. But “there were so many situations wherein what one might do in the way of taking or profiting was open to discussion and doubt. Morality varied, in his mind at least, with conditions, if not climates.”

An off-base idea

After any mass shooting, a vocal faction in Congress insists that Americans would be safer if more people carried guns into restricted public places. Allowing teachers to carry firearms on campus struck us as not helpful. But now that Fort Hood, Texas, has seen its second rampage in five years, the argument seems stronger when applied to military bases: Aren’t they filled with well-trained, trustworthy marksmen who could take down would-be mass murderers? Why not allow military personnel to carry weapons on base?

Finding genetic criminals

On this day in 1905, a British court found brothers, Alfred and Albert Stratton, guilty of murdering and robbing two shopkeepers, Ann and Thomas Farrow. What makes this case notable is the evidence used to support the conviction. There were no reliable witnesses, there was only Alfred Stratton’s right thumb print left on the Farrow’s cash box.

Mammoth day in language history

On this day 210 years ago today, President Thomas Jefferson helped transform a small rhetorical barb into a “mammoth” part of our language. He did so on the floor of the U. S. Senate when he and the assembled crowd devoured an enormous loaf of bread which onlookers termed the “Mammoth Loaf.”

Table top diplomacy revisited

Late last week, the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama journeyed to the People’s Republic of China. The trip was a family vacation of sorts. She had her mother and her daughters in tow. While not a formal diplomatic mission, any sojourn by the first family carries those obligations with it. So too was it with Obama’s trip to the PRC.

Freedom by comparison

This week media outlets all over the country have been trumpeting the importance of transparent government and the necessity of accessible government records. Along with these admonishments, we’ve cited notorious examples of governmental secrecy that worked against the public good; and we’ve given examples where determined journalists wrenched information from the claws of the corrupt.

Greening St. Patrick’s legend

As Monday marks the annual celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, it’s fitting that we revisit some of the largely forgotten details of the man and his myth. While most people probably associate Saint Patrick with the legend of driving the snakes out of Ireland, the facts of his life would be equally compelling without the slithering egress.

Pi by the numbers

Today is the occasion of two venerated observances in math and science. In the first instance, it is a celebration of Albert Einstein’s birthday. He was born March 14, 1879 — 135 years ago today.