Looking Back reviews opinions published in The Spokesman-Review during this week in history.
Coddling criminals, July 16, 1926
Criminal justice reforms are making headway locally and in Congress, but changes haven’t always been successful, as this S-R editorial noted.
“The coddling of convicts was carried to the extreme at the Oregon penitentiary. Entertainment was provided, sports were arranged, stripes and shaved heads were discarded – all on the mistaken theory that the way to win a convict to useful and law-abiding citizenship was to avoid severity and treat him with love, kindness and indulgence.
“The results at Salem were not up to expectations. The penitentiary for several years has been a hotbed of insurrection and desperate breaks for liberty, as in the escape last Friday of four convicts. The difficulty of identifying them in their “reform” penitentiary garb has led to the new order for a return to stripes and shaved heads.
“The crusade for indulgent treatment of convicts is more emotional than reasoning. It fails to consider the important fact that modern life is conducive to crime and the easy escape of the criminal.”
Woman in charge, July 13, 1966
Why has it taken so long for a woman to be elected president? Watch some episodes of “Mad Men,” or consider this editorial – a product of its time – on the appointment of Mrs. Maxine Daly to the position of state employment security commissioner.
“Gov. Evans has made many excellent appointments to key positions in his administration, and Mrs. Daly has all the qualifications to keep the record at a top level.
“But she will be the first woman to hold the post … and obviously will face much closer scrutiny on the part of the public than any other person who has appointed in such a position.”
The editorial reviews her background and concludes that “this certainly would indicate that she has the qualifications and experience necessary. But she will be watched closely by the people because she is a woman holding down an administration position normally handled by a man.”
Racism, July 12, 1986
An S-R editorial congratulated the region on its response to a gathering of white supremacists in Hayden Lake, Idaho, as national media watched.
“We passed with flying colors. The image we projected was of a community that made a point about its commitment to human rights and equality while displaying admirable restraint in the face of a small group that would deny those rights to many of us.
“The highlight of the weekend was Saturday’s 5 ½ hour rally in Coeur d’Alene celebrating the ethnic mix that makes up the Northwest. Sponsored by the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, the rally was intended to divert some of the spotlight from the World Aryan Congress.
“It worked. The 29 news organizations that delivered the white-supremacists’ message around the globe also carried a much weightier report: that their bigotry is not accepted or condoned by the rest of the community.”
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