Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Proof That John Cornyn, or His Minions, Lack Basic Reading Comprehension Skills

Or, an open letter to John Cornyn: A month or so ago, I sent you a letter regarding the taxation of compensation for people found innocent of crimes only after they had served several years in prison. The body of my letter read as follows:
Thirty-seven men have been cleared of crimes in Texas - more than any other state in the country. Collectively, they have served 525 years behind bars. Twenty of those 37 were from Dallas. If you are released from prison on parole, you get $100 to get you home, and you have a plethora of agencies to help you get job training, a job, or even an education. The travesty is that when an exonerated man is freed, he gets none of that. We treat them badly, Sen. Cornyn. We strip them of their freedom, incarcerate them for decades, and then send them out with nothing. Yes, they can sue. Or they can collect funds from the state for their time spent behind bars - $50,000 for each year served, at a cap of $300,000. But then we go on to insult them further by considering such monies a windfall, and taxing them at a rate of 40%. That is unconscionable. You have the power to stop this. I wish you would. I encourage you to pick up a copy of this month's Texas Monthly, or to read my blog post ( ) about a recent meeting with one of these exonerated men so you can get the full picture of how we have robbed them, and then robbed them again.
Today I got a response from your office. From that response, I can tell you didn't actually read my letter. Truthfully, I'd rather have no response at all then this completely dunderheaded response that screams, "I did not read your letter." You said:
Thank you for contacting me regarding our nation's prison system. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this matter. We are a compassionate nation, and a civilized one. But it is the duty of those in public office to ensure the safety and security of our citizens, first and foremost. In addition, offenders must be treated fairly and humanely while incarcerated, and we must do what we can to prepare them to reenter society following their release. Texans can be confident I will do everything possible in the U.S. Senate to ensure that we fulfill these responsibilities. I appreciate the opportunity to represent you in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me. Sincerely, JOHN CORNYN United States Senator
So, in summary, I wasn't asking for rehabilitation of prisoners. I'm glad you want to ensure the safety and security of our citizens. The people I wrote you about are citizens, too. In fact, they are citizens who have been incarcerated for crimes they did not commit - something you would've ascertained by actually reading my letter. I know you get a metric ton of requests for various things on any given week. But I'm not your typical "write your Congressman" type of person, either. I wager that, in a country where a 50% voter turnout is a miracle, many people will never write you. Some write about everything, I'm sure. Others, like me, write because something has so incensed them that they feel it is necessary to reach out and do something. What's sad is many of those people will get a letter like this from you, and will then go, "See? It doesn't pay to write. They won't do anything. He didn't even read my letter. Maybe if I was a rich lobbyist, he would." So maybe Big John really is all hat and no cattle.