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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?

A new low now reached

We are sadly well-accustomed to acts beneath the dignity of our local government officials. It has often been said that we are a small town with big city problems. Perhaps it is the lack of shame among our top officials that disappoints us the most.

More important than genies

At a time when such products are derided as a major contributor to obesity and its related consequences, it may be difficult for some to celebrate the cultural milestone we mark today. On this day in 1894, Joe Biedenharn of Vicksburg, Mississippi used his soda water equipment to package the very first bottled Coca-Cola.

1768 all over again

As memories of the recent Winter Olympics are slowly subordinated to the ongoing spectacle of war on the Crimean peninsula, it’s easy to think about Russian President Vladimir Putin as a singular bad actor. Even the slightest familiarity with the history of the Crimea shows this to be far from the case.

Common standards predictable opposition

As recently reported by The Commercial , a vocal group of Arkansas Republicans are mounting a campaign to kill the Common Core educational standards. Their efforts mirror those of tea party members across the U.S. Their primary talking point revolves around an assertion that Common Core will not prepare students for success in college, but the real issue is one of state’s rights.

Housing crisis as public health

For several years, The Commercial has published editorials highlighting problems associated with Pine Bluff’s poorly maintained and dwindling housing stock. In particular, we have regularly noted the crime epidemic that emanates from our community’s decrepit rental housing. Whether one’s home is rented or owned, our city has a tremendous problem associated with blighted housing.

Red noses foil land mines

Most of us probably know about Doctors Without Borders, the international medical aid organization that specializes in taking medical services to some of the most imperiled and dangerous places on Earth. According to a recent report, there’s another international aid group with a similar goal of making people feel better, but this group doesn’t use traditional medical therapies. Rather, they rely on the “best medicine” — laughter.

Reflecting, renewing and rebirth

In the Catholic faith, today is known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday. It is the last day of the carnival season that precedes the start of Lent on Wednesday. While this time of year is among the most sacred to Christendom, many of the underlying lessons could be beneficial to everyone.

Ensuring women are combat-ready

The Army is looking to the International Association of Fire Fighters as it seeks to develop fitness tests to ensure women are ready for combat positions that will become available to them in 2016, according to a report by The Associated Press.