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Wrongly imprisoned need liberty, justice

All too frequently in the past several years, there have been reports of wrongly convicted persons, who have existed under the most inhumane circumstances, being exonerated after spending years in prison, often on death row. Such a case was just recently reported in Alabama.

In 1999, Northwestern investigative journalism students were assigned Illinois cases of those potentially wrongly convicted. Their investigations found 12 of these, including five death row inmates who were ultimately released. Republican Illinois Gov. George Riley was so concerned that after reviewing all death row convictions, he issued stays of execution.

Since DNA became available as a means to determine guilt or innocence, there have been 329 exonerations, 153 of these on overturned death row cases, freeing those confined in a small cell for years.

Also, since the means of humane execution is in dispute, has not the time come to eliminate capital punishment, if not so much for the guilty as to protect the innocent?

Perhaps it is well to recite in support of our system of justice and as an ideal found in the Pledge of Allegiance, "with liberty and justice for all," but it is far from the truth in actual practice.

John Bratton Sewanee, Tenn.

Schools should try new testing ideas

Congratulations to David Cook for receiving a national award for his columns on standardized testing in the schools. I don't see where the school board has recognized or studied any of these ideas or those of other educators.

Of course, Jesus wasn't recognized in his hometown, either.

Vivian Dodds

Protect us from all the smog

As a mom, I am disappointed that Sen. Alexander is co-sponsoring a bill to weaken and delay the passing of stronger smog protections. He has called improvements to our smog standard "burdensome regulations" on economic development, but in fact it is our children who bear the burden of unsafe smog limits.

 Pediatricians tell us our children are especially vulnerable to the harms of breathing air pollution. Breathing smog creates a host of lung and cardiac issues. It's a powerful asthma trigger, it cuts lives short and it's a lung irritant. Health professionals agree our current smog standard is not adequately protecting us from this dangerous pollutant. 

As parents, we have a right to know the truth about whether the air is safe to breathe. We have a right to a smog standard that adequately protects our children's health. In the past, Sen. Alexander has stood by the children of Tennessee in supporting stronger air protections. He has been influential in changing our "Smoggy Mountains" back to the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Moms, once again, call on Sen. Alexander to protect our children from smog and not unfairly favor industries' right to pollute at the expense of their health. 

Lindsay Pace

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