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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 bid for willful blindness

For many years we have advocated for transparency in government. We will continue to do so. That said, there was a recent revelation about a government attempt to suppress information that we believe should in fact be withheld from the public.

Last voyage of the Lollypop

In the classic 1950 film, Sunset Boulevard, Gloria Swanson’s character, Norma Desmond, utters the movie’s most famous line: “I am ‘big.’ It’s the pictures that got small.” Such could be said of child star turned U.S. diplomat, Shirley Temple Black. Black died Monday. She was 85.

Fruit and vegetable incentive a lemon?

If you pass through the intersection of University Avenue and the Martha Mitchell Expressway in Pine Bluff, you might see a billboard reminding us that one in five children suffer from hunger. Limited access to proper nutrition is one of the major stumbling blocks in our nation’s continuing efforts to combat poverty.

In the pipeline: Good policy

Environmentalists have drawn a line in the sand on the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s the wrong line in the wrong sand, far away from any realistic assessment of the merits — as yet another government analysis has confirmed. It’s past time for President Obama to set aside politics and resolve this bizarre distraction of an issue.

Smoke signals for public health

Earlier this week two things happened that stand to improve public health, save lives and reduce the strain on health care delivery. The first of these was an announcement by the drug store giant, CVS Caremark Corporation, that the chain would no longer sell tobacco products. The second was the rollout of a program by the Food and Drug Administration titled “The Real Costs” — of smoking.

Opiate abuse rising across America

With the recent death of famed actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, due to what appears to be a heroin overdose, we are given pause to reflect on that drug’s place in our culture. Heroin and other opiates constitute a significant threat on many frontiers. It’s time that law enforcement, the medical community and public policymakers find a more effective strategy to curb this rising tide.