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Race statistics urge action

by: Jim CLARK, A recent sheriff’s office study found minorities, especially black inmates, are held longer in Multnomah County jails and are more likely to be punished with time in special disciplinary cells than white inmates.

Thanks for your outstanding article (Jail numbers skewed by race, May 29) detailing yet another study showing that racism is deeply embedded within our criminal justice system.

I applaud the county sheriff's office for taking on this critical work, unveiling for public scrutiny the huge disparities in length of incarceration and severity of punishment which have so affected the African-American community.

As you pointed out, these statistics reinforce those compiled by the Portland Police that show racial disparities in traffic and pedestrian stops and searches.

Unmentioned in your article are recent statistics from the Portland Police showing further racially skewed use of takedowns, control holds, Taser strikes, pepper spray deployments and use of drawn firearms.

Linking these studies are data that show that blacks are more often arrested, more often charged and more often convicted - for the same crime - as whites.

Racial prejudice at every level, plus culturally biased institutional policies, combined with the lack of black political and economic power has led to the criminalization of a whole sector of our population.

It's well past time for action by the Portland Police - the chief promised a plan to eliminate racial profiling two years ago - and by the sheriff's department.

Jamie Partridge

Northeast Portland

Eliminate liability for trail neighbors

I read with interest the article by Jim Redden titled 'Trail stairway leads to strife' (Trib Town, May 22). While Mr. Redden tried hard to be fair to both sides of the issue, I feel a few points could be expanded upon.

I help with some of the SWTrails projects and lead some of their Saturday hikes.

Anyone who wants to join the walks meets at 9 a.m. the second Saturday of the month at Wilson High School. We take turns leading a five- or six-mile walk along quiet streets and trails and there usually are about 25 of us.

One neighbor worried about the invasiveness of organized hikes through the neighborhoods.

We try to take a different route each time so nobody is likely to be 'invaded' by organized hikers. The stairs that were built indeed were steep, but money was being collected to buy a handrail.

If city sidewalk standards were required for all trails in Portland, none would ever be built. Even major park trails, such as the Wildwood Trail, Forest Park Trail and Tryon Creek Trail, have muddy, slippery paths.

Surely some way could be found so adjacent neighbors aren't held liable for anything that might happen on public property - perhaps a sign that says 'Privately constructed trail, use at your own risk.'

If two neighbors adjacent to a strip of public property can stop the public from using it, does that seem fair to other taxpaying neighbors who would like to see a path made?

Pete Schmierbach

Southwest Portland

Arguments for bridge no longer hold water

In talking about the proposed Interstate 5 Bridge over the Columbia River (Most in favor of replacing I-5 span, poll says, May 22), Sandra McDonough said 'People know intuitively that a replacement bridge is critical to the region's economic health.'

Well, I'm not so sure.

I do think people know they need to get around efficiently, and I do think they are learning that the region needs to use every available tool to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

They are seeing green industries increasingly attracted to the area's environmental qualities and stimulating economic growth.

The traffic projections in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement used a reference case of $59 per barrel in 2030. That also may have been intuitive when this process was started five years ago. But just like cheap oil, spending billions of dollars to increase dependence on a diminishing resource is intuitively obvious no more.

James Edelson

Northeast Portland

It's housecleaning time at sheriff's office

Finally, Bernie Giusto does something everyone applauds: he quits. Sound the trumpets!

The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office remains full of loyal, dedicated employees who finally have reason to hope. Those qualities have been strained to the limit.

Please, do the right thing and clean house beginning at the top of the sheriff's office command. This is a chance to get a fresh start and I'd like to suggest a large broom capable of a 'clean sweep.'

Michael Veley

Brush Prairie, Wash.

Paper was welcome break from computer

I am sorry to see the print edition dwindle to once a week. I am stuck in front of a computer far too long as it is. It was nice to be able to pick up a paper and go have a cup of coffee. I even read the ads, which I rarely do on a Web site. I hope your once-a-week print edition will carry all the articles from the previous week.

Carole Barkley

Southwest Portland

Changes at paper smart, good decisions

I have read the Tribune for several years. I am a sports fan and many of your writers came from The Oregonian, so it was great to still be able to follow their writing.

I appreciate the issues you take on and your willingness to tell the whole story. I think one print paper on Thursdays makes sense and the Web is quick. Good job.

Roy Nickerson

Oregon City