Letters: No change in DA's lifer position

20170310_inq_lede10-a
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams Staff file photo

No change in DA's lifer position

The Inquirer published an article Monday asserting that, as Philadelphia's district attorney, I changed my position on the sentencing of defendants who committed first-degree murder when they were under the age of 18 ("DA seeks life terms for some juveniles"). I made no such change, and the article is contradicted by the paper's prior reporting.

As the paper accurately reported on June 5 ("Alternative future"): "District Attorney Seth Williams expects almost no juveniles will be sentenced to life without parole . . . . He said he won't rule out life without parole in the most heinous cases . . . ."

As expected, we have made individualized sentencing recommendations in 96 cases, most of which would make the defendant immediately eligible for parole, after considering a number of factors, such as victim input, case evidence, and the defendant's prison behavior. Of those 96, I made only three offers of life without parole. Judges will continue to make the final determination, but my approach to these cases is fair, reasonable, and consistent with the judgments of the Pennsylvania legislature and the U.S. Supreme Court.

|R. Seth Williams, Philadelphia

Instead of I-95 park, fix streets

In a city that is supposedly strapped for cash, how can Mayor Kenney spend $90 million to build a park covering I-95 ("Green connection to city's riverfront," March 1)? If he has that kind of money to spend, he should consider repaving all of the numbered streets from Spring Garden to Center City - they are a full-blown disaster.

|M.D. Hamilton, Hatboro, spmarg6@gmail.com

ACA repeal endangers disabled

Disability Rights Pennsylvania condemns the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, because the legislation will harm people with disabilities ("House GOP releases its plan," Tuesday).

The plan would fundamentally alter Pennsylvania's Medicaid system by shifting to a per capita Medicaid system. This shift would mean a significant loss of federal Medicaid dollars to the state's Health Choices and Waiver programs that serve children, adults, and seniors with disabilities, because of the way federal funds will be used to support state services. The loss of federal funds would grow larger each year. Medicaid provides for matching state and federal funds. Under a Medicaid per capita cap, the federal government would set a limit on how much to reimburse Pennsylvania. Unlike current law, funding would not be based on the actual cost of providing services.

Congressional leaders say this proposal provides more flexibility to the states to operate Medicaid; however, Pennsylvania already has flexibility to run our waiver programs. Flexibility talk is code for more-stringent eligibility requirements and the potential loss of critical medical and mental health services, prescription drugs, community supports, personal care services, employment services, and longer waiting lists. It is a disserve to people with disabilities and the country to take away the services that allow access to the community and potential employment.

|Peri Jude Radecic, chief executive officer, Disability Rights Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, pradecic@disabilityrightspa.org

Health insurance will cost more

So Trumpcare will be replacing the Affordable Care Act. What we are getting is a "Make Insurance Companies Richer Again" plan with a tax credit smoke screen. Don't be surprised to see your insurance premiums and co-pays increase with limited services, even for seniors who have either a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare Supplement plan. If you are on Medicaid, you could lose your coverage over time if the Republican Congress has its way.

The 2018 midterm elections cannot come soon enough.

|George Salloom, Drexel Hill

Demand end to gerrymandering

Gerrymandering should top the list of priorities for all activists, as so well put by columnist John Baer ("Pa. lawmakers close their eyes to gerrymandering," Monday).

All of us, Democrats and Republicans, should extract a pledge of support for an independent commission to draw district lines from every state senator and representative running for reelection. If they refuse the pledge, we should reject their candidacy.

|Mary Goldman, Philadelphia

Higher wages offered for a reason

The owner of a dog-walking business is paying employees $14 to $15 an hour because she doesn't want staff turnover ("Bosses step up on wages," Wednesday). Exactly - turnover is costly for businesses. I wouldn't necessarily admire her for paying more than minimum wage. She is making a business decision that benefits her business: less turnover and more-dedicated employees.

As economist Joel Naroff said, "What you are going to get at minimum wage . . . [is] people who, for one reason or another, can't find jobs at anything else."

By paying higher wages, businesses can hire people who will work harder and don't want to lose their good-paying job. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not because they're morally superior.

|Maureen Fox, Doylestown