The Post and Courier provides a forum for our readers to share their opinions, and to hold up a mirror to our community. Publication does not imply endorsement by the newspaper; the editorial staff attempts to select a representative sample of letters because we believe it’s important to let our readers see the range of opinions their neighbors submit for publication.

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Letters to the Editor: SC prisons need a call to human mercy

Prison Riot South Carolina (copy)

A prison staffer walks a fence line at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville.

2 wrongful death lawsuits filed after deadly 2018 SC prison riot that killed 7 inmates

The tragedies taking place in the South Carolina prisons and jails are alarming. No one should be dying an unnatural death while incarcerated.

We consistently fall short of high ethical and moral standards. I’ve served as a volunteer in prison re-entry in New Jersey and South Carolina and have gone overseas to Cyprus for prison education.

I read what happens in our prison system and think that I am reading about countries where there is no due process of law and conditions are barbaric.

The loss of life that occurred at Lee Correctional Institution in 2018 should have been a powerful call to action and reform across the state, yet it has not changed the fact that we are still losing prisoners to violence, to drug overdoses and to what appears to be blatant disregard and neglect for the welfare of those incarcerated.

Separately in county jail, the August 2017 story of the harrowing ordeal of Brianna Beland’s death was beyond heartbreaking. And now we have two more inmates at Al Cannon Detention Center who have died from drug overdoses.

Over the past decade, more than 150 people have died in county jails.

I am going to propose something much more radical than reforms: a call for mercy. Radical because not caring is so normalized. Justice is not vengeance.

Those serving their sentences deserve safety and protection, to be given medical care when they are in pain, suffering or in danger of dying, and deserve the opportunity for growth and change.

We cannot seek reform without the transformation of our too-often-held position that those incarcerated are not deserving of the very reforms we are discussing and proposing.

The tragedies taking place in South Carolina’s prison system are indicative of a much larger problem, one that permeates humanity beyond prison walls.

We must address and heal the very root

of our problem: the condition of our own hearts.

This is the locus of the greatest reform that will not only change our prisons but every person connected to those incarcerated and those serving their sentences.


Gilmore Road


Citadel connections run deep

Our family very much appreciated the positive and touching story by reporter Thomas Novelly about my late son, Marine 1st Lt. Hugh Conor McDowell, killed on active duty in a preventable “accident” at Camp Pendleton, San Diego, on May 9.

Conor, as he was called, was a 2017 graduate of The Citadel and just one of several Citadel connections to our extended family in Washington, D.C. (Conor’s hometown); Baltimore; London; Oxford, England; Brighton/Hove, England; and Charleston.

Of course, it was not possible to detail all those connections with “El Cid” in the story. But those connections began more than three decades ago with my wife, Susan Flanigan’s niece, a teacher who married a Citadel man. Susan graduated from the college with a master’s degree. Her son graduated last summer and her sister’s son is a rising undergraduate.

I am a very active recent member of The Citadel’s advisory board of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Conor’s wonderful fiancee — not girlfriend, I stress, they were to marry this fall and were engaged — Kathleen Isabel Rose Bourque, my wife, and I were truly honored by the college on the day Conor was interred with other American heroes at Arlington National Cemetery.

Of note are Geno Paluso, the outstanding commandant of cadets at the college, who was a respected guide to Conor and a friend to me; retired Marine Col. Neil Schuehle, Conor’s NROTC commanding officer, who was a role model and mentor to my son; and Dr. Connie Book, the former provost and dean who is now president of Elon College.


North Queen Street

Chestertown, Maryland

Seismic letter missing data

In response to the July 29 letter “Seismic data is of immense scientific value,” I am “equally miffed” by the writer letter implying that South Carolina would benefit from gathering seismic data in our coastal waters.

He touts the benefits of seismic data acquired in coastal Louisiana as providing a wealth of scientific information in understanding the sedimentary architecture of the Mississippi Delta shelf margin and the relationship between fault movement and wetlands loss.

I do not claim to have the credentials he has, but I do have an understanding of the topography of South Louisiana, the Mississippi Delta and the coastline of South Carolina. There is no comparison.

Letters to the Editor: Seismic data is of immense scientific value

Further, he espouses the benefits of collaborative efforts between scientists and policymakers to better understand Earth’s processes through geophysical data.

He failed to mention that there is, in fact, a collaborative effort between NOAA and the U.S. Geologic Survey on ocean mapping being done without seismic testing and no harm to marine life.

NOAA’s Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping division reported in 2012 that the benefits of its products and services contribute to public and private activities, including, among many, energy exploration, development and production.

Which brings me to other obvious omissions from the July 29 letter. First, he makes no mention of marine life. Nor does he mention that he works as a geologist in the oil and gas industry.


Ashley Garden Boulevard


Why people come to America

In the early 1960s, I recall asking my Irish immigrant grandmother, “Why did you come to the United States?”

Her reply was immediate, brief and definitive: “To eat.” The reasons for millions have not changed. Similar reactions against immigrants have not changed (e.g., Irish Catholics need not apply). I thank God that immigrant settlement camps for unskilled laborers were not established for my ancestors.

I am a grandson of an unskilled Irish immigrant who served in the Navy as a Seabee in World War II at Guadalcanal, the son of a retired Navy vet who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and I am a Marine Corps lieutenant colonel. None of this would be possible for today’s South American immigrant.

Some things do change: Compassion used to count. Sadly, those enacting today’s laws consider money ahead of compassion.

Christians? I ask them, “What would Christ say?”


Atlantic Avenue

Sullivan’s Island

Get a weekly recap of South Carolina opinion and analysis from The Post and Courier in your inbox on Monday evenings.

Buist merger uproar

I have followed with mounting concern the evolution of the admissions policy for Buist Academy. I was so excited when Buist was created in 1985. Suddenly, there was the possibility of sending our daughters to an academically challenging and racially diverse public elementary school downtown where we lived at the time. Our older daughter was accepted into Buist in 1986 and her younger sister four years later. They received an excellent education with classmates of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, which was invaluable and unavailable at our other school choices.

I never understood why the Buist concept couldn’t be expanded to more schools, rather than admissions becoming so increasingly desirable that Larry Kobrovsky filed a federal lawsuit challenging admissions quotas, which undermined the school’s original purpose.

School designed to integrate downtown Charleston now grapples with a lack of diversity

So now we have an excellent public magnet school created to combat segregation with a student population that is 82% white rather than 60%, which reflects the nonminority population of Charleston County.

I understand the frustration and resentment of minority parents who feel the school isn’t as accessible to their children as it should be and that they may not have good alternative school choices.

I also understand the anxiety and stress of Buist parents who just followed the school’s admissions standards.

The best way forward is complicated and uncertain for all parents involved, so I hope the Charleston County School Board will take the time to make a well-planned decision rather than a politically expedient one.


Summit Plantation Road


Fixing drain pipes important

A July 23 Post and Courier article revealed how the historic drain pipes underneath Halsey Street had collapsed. I am not an engineer and know nothing about street drainage, but my mom is Dutch and you don’t have to pay me for advice on flooding.

If we fix all the collapsed historic drain pipes throughout the city, we may solve a little of our flooding problems.

A Charleston street's drain pipes collapsed. The fix takes months, two agencies and $100K.

Why it took this long to realize the pipes were collapsed is beyond me.

You need my dad, who always taught me to check the simple things first.

Graag gedaan (you’re welcome).


Backwater Court


Biker braves bridge traffic

To the brave man who donned his helmet on the morning of July 29 and biked across the Ashley River bridge to the peninsula, bravo!

And thank you.

Editorial: Ashley River bike and pedestrian bridge remains a necessity

By declining to use that silly narrow sidewalk and biking squarely in the far right lane, you forced motorists to move into the other three lanes of traffic and courageously showed the 8 a.m. commuters that requisitioning one lane for cyclists will not cause traffic to grind to a halt.

I look forward to the day when commuting downtown across the bridges does not

mean taking one’s life into one’s own hands, as you surely must have felt at the end of your ride.


Archdale Street


Traveler wrong about city

After reading the July 24 letter writer’s comments about how she would never pick Charleston as the No. 1 destination for anything, the only words I could come up with were “Bless her heart.”

Most people from around here will understand, where as a world traveler such as the writer may not grasp its true intent.


Treadwell Street

Mount Pleasant

Nation’s decline increasing

The July 22 letter citing the decay of the country over the past eight years is very timely.

The country has been on this slippery slope since the end of the Reagan administration, but the decline became more rapid during Obama’s presidency.

One of our best presidents, Calvin Coolidge, stated that “The business of America is business.” One of the blessings of this country is that it produces great men when they are most needed.

President Donald Trump, a businessman, not a politician, was recognized by the public as just the sort of leader who could take a country headed toward bankruptcy and turn it around.

He has done just that. One of the failings of human nature is that we overestimate the near term over the long run.

We may look at the tremendous job he has accomplished in 2-1/2 years and consider the job done.

He has done most of this work by using executive orders, which could just as easily be rescinded by a Democratic president. We must elect a Republican House of Representatives to make these changes law.

What has taken a long time to do will require a long time to undo.


Furman Drive


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