Letters to the Editor

Restorative justice, not exclusion zone

In Wednesday's edition of the Daily Tidings, we read about the situation of homeless individuals and violations of city codes in Ashland. As Chief of Police Terry Holderness said, fines are not a very good solution to addressing unlawful conduct — with few resources, payment of these fines is nearly impossible.

We are then presented with two alternatives. The first is the creation of an exclusion zone in downtown. This is not a healthy solution to city violations and is alienating to an already marginalized group of people.

The combination of debilitating mental illnesses — including drug and alcohol addiction — and a lack of resources and support systems creates a very precarious situation for these people. Excluding them from downtown merely reinforces their status as near second-class community members and does nothing to foster better attitudes or behaviors in them.

Restorative justice, such as community service, is a much better solution to civic offenses. Restorative justice responds to crimes by addressing the needs of victims and offenders instead of focusing on punitive measures. As mentioned at the end of the article, homeless people would feel more a part of the community by beautifying it, rather than giving them another fine or banishing them from certain areas.

Restorative justice is an increasingly applied and studied way of dealing with crime. It gives power to the community rather than an impersonal and abstract legal system. And, most importantly, it provides more satisfying and long-lasting results for both the victim and offender.

Zach Kitamura


Homeless situation is nothing new

The Wednesday, March 23, Ashland Daily Tidings front page had two articles of public interest pertaining to the homeless, street people and transients titled, "Citations not working" and "Who are these people?" I felt they both were depressing with despair.

I won't pretend to address the problem of Ashland's homeless. I have no answer, cure or whatever for the simple reason I don't feel qualified.

However, this certainly reminds me of Klamath Falls where I was born and formerly lived. Especially the transient population commonly called "winos" who lurked within the vicinity of Commercial, Broad, Market and Spring streets off Oak Avenue.

This is an older and largely deserted and rundown section of Klamath Falls that formerly was an industrialized zone. It's within walking distance of the old Southern Pacific Railroad Depot (now Amtrak and property of Union Pacific).

Also, the local Klamath Falls Gospel Mission at 823 Walnut Ave. was, and perhaps still is today, a common gathering place for street people, the homeless, including transients.

However, unlike here, I don't recall the homeless of Klamath Falls being as aggressive in panhandling as the Tidings alleges they are here in Ashland. The transients in Klamath Falls, it seemed, would hop a freight train out of town destined to destinations both north and south. Of course the railroad police or "special agent" would often crack down and arrest such for trespassing on the railroad right of way.

Let's be realistic here. I don't think the homeless are any more welcome or wanted here in Ashland than they were in Klamath Falls 65 miles east of us, or perhaps in most towns, municipalities and cities across America. Obviously somebody who is far more qualified than myself can offer solutions to Ashland's homeless problem.

James A. Farmer


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