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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?

Driving the communal ambulance

In looking back at the year just ended, we note great progress embedded deep within a sad familiar refrain. According to aggregated monthly reports from the Pine Bluff Police Department, our annual homicide toll remains far too high and on par with 2012. By the same token, the city’s monthly calls for police service have decreased by almost 20 percent. That equates to an average decrease hovering around 200 calls per month.

Darr’s resistance brings shame

It’s pretty cut and dried: Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr should resign. As reported by Arkansas News Bureau, Darr recently signed a settlement with the state Ethics Commission agreeing to pay $11,000 in fines for 11 separate violations of state campaign finance and disclosure laws.

Obamacare’s payoff

It’s still unclear how well the Affordable Care Act will function. But on Wednesday, the law started working for a good chunk of those it was designed to help. The formerly uninsured who signed up for health-care plans under its provisions are now able to use their new coverage. As The Washington Post’s Lena H. Sun and Amy Goldstein reported Sunday, those people include Illinois financial consultant Adam Peterson, 50, who will be able to get long-needed gallbladder surgery, and Tennessee student Emily Wright, 28, who can have a specialist look at a suspicious mole.

Call of the Wild-ly stupid

The proverbial 15 minutes has long since run out on these folks. Even so, the American appetite for corn-pone-moronic behavior appears unabated. Given the principal players, we think it’s time for a diet.

All in a year’s work

People in the Western world have celebrated January 1 as the dawn of a new year for more than two millennia. We can credit the establishment of this date to the Roman emperor, Julius Caesar. After years of frustrating inaccuracies in time keeping, Caesar decreed that changes would be made to the old Roman lunar-based calendar system.

Tommy May set standards

The frustrating thing about Tommy May is that because he checks so many boxes in life, we’re not sure which Tommy May we’re going to miss the most. Family man, check. Man of faith, check. Nice guy/neighbor, check. Community leader, check. Local cheerleader of the highest order, check. Bank guru, check. Rock star on state and national stage, check. Inspiration to all, check.

Political cancer reflects mortality

Just this week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report about the leading causes of death for the general U.S. population. The report authored by Melonie Heron, Ph.D., in the CDC Division of Vital Statistics, listed heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases as the leading causes of death in 2010 (most recent year with complete data) for the general population, while birth defects and low birth weight were the top two causes of death for infants.

Eastern fun in western context

During the interregnum between Christmas and New Year’s Day, life often takes an odd pause. It is not quite the holidays, but seems as though it could be. We return things, spend gift cards and perhaps prepare for one more night of revelry.

St. Stephen with rubber ducks

Typical American observances on December 26th often include indigestion, lethargy and contemplation of furtive gift returns. For our British, Irish, Canadian and New Zealander cousins, the day after Christmas brings another holiday: Boxing Day.

Santa Claus gets schooled

According to ABC News, more than 70,000 people will don the big red suit and play Santa Claus in malls, parades, office parties and other venues. While a goodly number of individuals take on this noble calling as volunteers, there’s an increasing cadre of professional Santas. Many come from retirees looking to make extra money to supplement their income.