Don’t disregard needs

Dear Editor:

Moving the Omak juvenile detention facility to a psychiatric prison outside of Spokane disregards the needs of vulnerable Okanogan children in several ways:

• State laws mandate that these marginalized children remain in their communities whenever possible. We have a civic and legal responsibility to take care of our own children.

• Already at-risk children deserve a local therapeutic setting, rather than exposure to a maximum-security psychiatric prison system far away. Reintegration is much more difficult when children are separated from family, probation officers, attorneys and therapists during detention.

• Okanogan County is one of the poorest counties in the state, and poverty rates are twice the state rate. The three-hour trip to visit detained children would be impossible for working and/or impoverished families, particularly in winter.

• Many of the detainees are Native Americans, and family ties and Native ways are a vital part of the Native American healing culture. It makes little sense to send troubled Native children 136 miles away from their families to a white prison facility.

• It is both unsafe and unwise to house children at Martin Hall along with hundreds of adult psychiatric patients. Security cannot be guaranteed, and patients who are under civil commitment are allowed unsupervised leaves, an open campus and other privileges. Our teenagers should not be housed near adults with serious psychiatric issues.

• Martin Hall is privately owned, and as experience with adult prisons has shown, private ownership results in dangerously substandard medical care, nutrition and security.

On a personal note: When I was 16 years old, I spent an evening in a local juvenile detention facility. If I had been sent in chains to a maximum security prison facility hours away from my home, I can only imagine how I would have reacted at that age: furious, hysterical, and possibly combative (I was a teenager).

It doesn’t take a lot for a teenager to react inappropriately, and a mishandled minor crime could turn into a life-damaging event for vulnerable children.

Carole Schroeder, RN, PhD, Twisp

Community responsibility

Dear Editor:

We support the way Methow Valley Elementary School principal Mr. Winters handled the recent lapse in judgment of a sixth-grade student who brought an airsoft gun to school. Although this is a scary incident in today’s world, we believe the school administrator handled the episode quickly and appropriately.

As a community, it is now our responsibility to handle this with the same level-headedness that the school administrators modeled. We have a young community member who has made a very poor decision and needs guidance and direction from adults and leaders in this community so that he is able to learn through his mistake. His family needs to feel supported, rather than judged, as they care for their child through this learning opportunity.

Now, all community members need to take the opportunity to assess our own homes and make sure that our firearms are locked up safely. Safety locks for handguns are free to the public through the Winthrop and Twisp police departments. If you need one, visit the Marshal’s Office in Winthrop or the Twisp police station to collect a free gun lock today.

All our children, whether they live in a home with firearms or not, should know the rules and responsibilities of firearms. Gun safety course is a valuable part of early education. To learn more about course dates visit The next gun safety course is April 4 at the Twisp Valley Grange.

Any adult with an adolescent in their life should take the opportunity today to discuss the boundaries and responsibilities around both real and toy weapons.

Please support the youth growing up in this community when they make inevitable mistakes, facilitate learning opportunities, and withhold your judgment — all our children will benefit from this approach.

With concern and support for all involved.

Jeff and Molly Patterson, Twisp

Not needed

Dear Editor:

The idea that we need a “Right to Life” amendment to the U.S. Constitution is pure folly. Such a law would create no new rights. “Right to Life” is a direct assault on women’s fourth amendment right to privacy. More than that, it is an assault on the right to privacy and doctor-patient privilege for all of us.

I am a Christian and a libertarian Republican and I just wrote a check to Planned Parenthood. Second to Sunday School, that organization does more to prevent abortions than any other institution in America.

Every prevention is a triumph. Those not prevented are tragedies. Tragic, full of risk and sadness, but it should be private between a woman and her physician. No good can come of demanding a role for federal lawyers. Those fixated on reproductive organs in national policy should sit down and be quiet.

Dan Aspenwall, Winthrop