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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

A plea to give ex-convicts a second change by hiring them; a Supreme Court ruling on a class-action suit; criticism of President Obama on the Osama bin Laden raid

May 15, 2011
  • Working it out: Homeboy Industries gives former gang members hope through employment. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Working it out: Homeboy Industries gives former gang members hope through…

A second chance

Re "A life sentence of joblessness," Opinion, May 11

It's not often that an Op-Ed article haunts me throughout my day, but Gregory J. Boyle's did.

Why teach former inmates to rehabilitate themselves if we won't rehabilitate our opinions of them? How can we ask them to have hope if we're going to continue to treat them as potential criminals?

The young man who was fired when the employer found out about his prison record broke my heart. Maybe employers shouldn't be able to know about a person's prison record. Maybe the only prison records that should be public are those of sexual predators and sex offenders.

All they are saying is give ex-cons a chance.

Judy Silk

Pacific Palisades

Our prisons need to emulate Boyle's example and become places of genuine rehabilitation. This contradiction — that prison is a place to reform but then the label of felon lasts a lifetime — removes any hope of assimilation. The long-term cost of real rehabilitation is surely less than that of continued crime and recidivism.

Let's put our tax dollars toward an honest second chance for prisoners. Once society acknowledges the potential of every member, we will no longer feel the need to give someone a lifelong label of felon.

Lynne Winner

Castaic

Boyle's paragraph about our society becoming civilized "when we embrace confidence in the power of redemption" reminded me of the hypocrisy of the reemerging religious right, with its tough-on-crime and pro-death-penalty stances yet its selective powers of forgiveness for the corruption, adultery, drug use and other misdeeds of its political and religious leaders.

Norma Arbisser

Los Angeles

The law and the little guy

Re "Class (action) dismissed," Opinion, May 10

Erwin Chemerinsky contends that the Supreme Court has put roadblocks in front of the right of every "injured person" to have his day in court. He says the conservative justices' actions are "part of a disturbing trend" toward "favoring the interests of businesses over consumers."

So what story prompted Chemerinsky to make this assertion? Vincent and Liza Concepcion bought a cellphone from AT&T and joined a class-action lawsuit over a phone they thought was free but cost them $30.22 in sales tax. What suffering they must have felt!

If I were a Supreme Court justice, not only would I have thrown out the case, I would have charged the Concepcions $30.22 for the wasted dry-cleaning bill for my robe.

Steve Morton

Irvine

Chemerinsky is right. By allowing big business to force customers into arbitration, we once again have seen the willingness of the Supreme Court's conservative majority to cut the legs out from under the American consumer.

To see how immoral this decision is, one simply has to ask this question: Is it worse to steal $1 million from one person, or $1 from a million persons? Either way, a million bucks is missing.

Bryan Reese

Pasadena

Class-action suits are notorious for enriching the lawyers rather than the plaintiffs. For such a small amount ($30.22), there's small-claims court. There is a filing fee and process-server fee, which may be included in the judgment if the plaintiff wins.

If all those in the class-action suit filed in small-claims courts, AT&T would certainly have to take notice and avoid the expense of appearing in court to fight each claim.

Gretchen Hays

Pacific Palisades

The courts are required to follow the law, both statutory and case law. But as a practicing attorney, I was shocked to learn that an arbitrator is not required to follow the law; the only requirement is that the arbitrator be "fair." But "fair" to whom?

Because most arbitrations are not appealable, the recent Supreme Court decision adds more salt to the plaintiff's injury.

Jan Book

Marina del Rey

On a small planet, think big

Re "To infinity and beyond," Opinion, May 9

I was touched by Gregory Rodriguez's appeal for idealistic curiosity. I believe we have entered a period of intellectual stagnation, another Dark Ages. The desire for consumer goods has been promoted by the powerful influences of a few who intend to retain that power, as any medieval superstition about the need to appease a hideously punitive deity was promulgated by an ignorant theocracy.

We are bombarded into a state of constant neediness. Solace and comfort are sought in the possession of material goods. Yes, we know about atoms and black holes and mitochondria and DNA — and we can find out all about them on our iPad or smartphone. The world is flat once again.

Karen Robinson-Stark

Burbank

There is a pragmatic reason to continue the development of space travel. At some future time, there will certainly be another global catastrophe such as the one that ended the age of the dinosaurs. Humans could be the first Earthlings with the capacity to survive such an event.

Herv Inskeep

Laguna Woods

Sticking up for the president

Re "Why the rush to gloat?," Opinion, May 10

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