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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?

Century spent coming full circle

In a 1914 speech, President Woodrow Wilson observed: “Some Americans need hyphens in their names because only part of them has come over; but when the whole man has come over, heart and thought and all, the hyphen drops of its own weight out of his name. This man was not an Irish-American; he was an Irishman who became an American.”

Ode to avarice and ego

It’s often said that nothing happens in a vacuum. A recent theft from a Milwaukee musician exemplifies the truth of the old adage. As the New York Times reported last week, thieves stole a 1715 Stradivarius violin from the concert master of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Seeger: study in resolve

Editor’s Note: Legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger died Monday at age 94. Earlier this month we published an editorial about Seeger and his group, the Weavers. Because Seeger left such an indelible mark on American popular and political culture, we’ve updated the editorial and are presenting it again today.

Sacking the debate on bags

Lawmakers in California have recently proposed a law banning the use of plastic bags in retail outlets. Predictably, folks on the extreme end of conservatism decry this as the harbinger of fascism, communist oppression and the growing “nanny state.” While their ire is often justified by the equally polemic machinations of California liberalism, on this issue, conservatives are just plain wrong.

A step in the right direction

When President George W. Bush signed the Voting Rights Act reauthorization in 2006, he reminded his audience that as a nation, “we’ve made great progress toward equality, yet the work for a more perfect union is never-ending.”