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I was at the Sherburne County jail last Monday for a one-hour presentation to inmates called “How to Stay Out of Jail.” There was a young black man who was sitting in a chair in the waiting area when I arrived. I asked if he was there to visit someone, and he said, “Yes, I’m here to visit myself.” He went on to tell me he came to turn himself in because he had received a warrant for his arrest. He was somewhat sullen and not a happy camper. He was on the large side and not someone I’d like to meet in a dark alley, no matter his racial makeup.

Shortly after that, an officer arrived. The man looked nervous and, to me, acted a bit defensively when he told the officer why he was there. The officer smiled when asking him to stand, and put cuffs on him. “I’m going to use two sets of cuffs so you’ll be more comfortable,” he said. He then talked to the young man in a reassuring voice and told him he’d arrived early enough to make the court docket that day and would not have to spend the night in jail.

The officer talked to him in a friendly and ongoing manner instead of letting him stand there in a stew. I could see the guy relaxing and actually saw him smile. This exchange lasted for five minutes before another officer came to take him to wherever he would go to await his court time. The first officer told the second one that — here he used the man’s first name — had turned himself in on a warrant and would he please take good care of him before the court time. The second officer was as friendly as the first one, and off he and the warranted one went, like two acquaintances on a trip to a casual meeting, other than that one of them was handcuffed.

I told the program director who came to get me for the presentations what I had just witnessed. He said matter-of-factly, “That’s the way we treat everyone here — with respect.” As I went around the jail to the different places where I gave my talks, I noticed that is the way all the officers acted with inmates — with respect and in a friendly way.

Why don’t we hear more stories like this?

Patrick Day, Buffalo, Minn.

The writer is an author, publisher and business coach who visits jails as part of his Gideon ministry.


Much has been misleading; Tom Price’s tweet was not

In a July 7 editorial, the Star Tribune Editorial Board criticizes a tweet from Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price that correctly pointed out that 28.2 million Americans remain uninsured under Obamacare. Secretary Price referred to the 28.2 million uninsured as “28.2 million promises broken.” The editorial labels the statistic “misleading” — while acknowledging its accuracy — and calls Price’s tweet “bizarre” and “disingenuous.”

The fact is that President Obama promised to “sign a universal health care bill into law that will cover every American,” as well as making the now-infamous claim that it would cut the cost of family premiums by up to $2,500 a year. Folks in Minnesota know that claim was indeed “disingenuous,” given that premiums have risen by 50 percent to 66 percent in back-to-back years. In fact, according to the most recent data, more than 94,000 Minnesotans paid the IRS nearly $20 million just for the right to go without the kind of health insurance Washington told them to buy.

Moreover, I’d bet the 100,000 Minnesotans who had their plans canceled don’t find Price’s tweet “bizarre,” but agree that it’s accurate.

Led by liberal commentators on these pages, our state jumped headlong into Obamacare. One result is that Minnesota spends $11 billion on Medicaid — $3 billion more than Wisconsin, with a larger population — and also just had to bail out MNsure with a $312 million premium support program. Despite massive tax increases on everything from over-the-counter medications to medical devices made right here in Minnesota, trillions in new spending, and thousands of new pages in regulations, Minnesotans still face skyrocketing costs and fewer coverage options.

I’ll continue to work with my colleagues — and with Tom Price — to help all Americans (including the 28.2 million who remain uninsured) get access to high-quality and, most important, affordable health care.

U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Minn.

The writer represents the state’s Second Congressional District.


For some, making the slices smaller is the right pursuit

Regarding the July 13 editorial “Degree completion can be workforce plus”: Riverland Community College is right on target. I applaud its approach of short, sequential courses to assist adult learners achieve a degree. The underlying motivator is achieving success in small increments. It is in our nature to require small successes to move on (success breeds success) and especially with adults — who may already be employed with a limited time factor, available energy and financial limitations — the single focused class is very appropriate.

Although the program is aimed at those who have achieved some college credits, it would seem applicable to even those who have never been to college and are faced with the same restrictions of time.

It may be a financially acceptable way to proceed. The article did not indicate any form of qualifying for financial aid.

As a university professor, teaching both undergraduate and graduate students, I find the learning of limited concepts more effective than those of grandiose subject matter; so again, Riverland Community College is on the right track.

David M. Plum, Mendota Heights

The writer is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.


To cut or not?

The recent account of the New England Journal of Medicine study on prostate cancer treatment (“Prostate surgery gets new caution,” July 13) accepted the study’s conclusion that there was little to choose between surgery or simple observation for men diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was assumed that the participants in the study did not have any tumor metastases. What it actually showed was that choosing surgery gave a 5.97 percent chance that when you died it would be from the effects of prostate cancer — because either the initial assumption was wrong or the surgery left some few cancer cells that eventually metastasized leading to death, or both. Contemporary diagnostic tools for determining the size, location and Gleason grade of prostate tumors are significantly improved from between 1994 and 2002, when the study participants were assigned. Surgical techniques for removing the prostate have improved significantly. Going forward, the percentage of such patients who elect surgery and still develop metastasized prostate cancer should be significantly reduced compared with in this study.

Those patients assigned to observation in this study who eventually died had an 8.97 percent chance of dying from their prostate cancer. This was a 156 percent more likely outcome than for those who chose surgery. It is difficult to understand the study’s conclusion that this would not be relevant to an informed patient newly diagnosed with localized prostate cancer, facing a decision to undergo surgery or observation. Note that such a study provides strong evidence for initially screening men using the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test — to even offer a choice between surgery and observation.

Gordon Kepner, Minneapolis