2016 Election, Elections, Joe Biden, NewsEdge

Opinion Roundup: Biden’s poll numbers are intriguing

(Florida Times Union)

A new poll explains why Joe Biden is suddenly the hot ticket for the Democratic presidential nomination.

biden2016He has a better favorability rating than current leaders Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

Though both Clinton and Trump are leading their respective primary fields, they have fairly high negatives.

In fact, pollsters asked Americans an open-ended question. What word comes to mind regarding Clinton? “Liar” led the list.

For Trump, the word was “arrogant.”

Biden also runs slightly better against the major Republican candidates than Clinton.

Polling trends were summarized this way: Trump soars, Ben Carson rises while Jeb Bush and Clinton have slipped.OVERUSING JAIL FOR JUVENILES

Everyone knows that jail should be used as a last resort for juveniles. Don’t we? Apparently not in Florida.

A new report explains that the state could save $61 million a year by increasing the use of civil citations for juveniles, reported the Children’s Campaign.

This is not a “get away with it” card. In fact, civil citations include a tough love component in which juveniles receive support and consequences for their behavior – just not behind bars.

The problem is that once tossed in jail, a juvenile often is put on a path of a lifetime of crime and trouble. That record may follow the juvenile through life, making it more difficult to get a job and even a college loan.

Diversionary programs like civil citations work. Only 4 percent of those in them have a repeat offense compared to 42 percent for juvenile lockups.

Similar studies by Associated Industries of Florida and Florida TaxWatch have produced similar results. ABUSE OF MENTALLY ILL

The mentally ill are often subjected to abuse in prisons that sounds like torture, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch.

That includes being doused with chemical spray, shocked with stun guns and strapped for hours to chairs or beds.

Prisoners with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are often punished with force for such violations as banging on cell doors.

One outrageous example occurred in Michigan where a mentally ill man starved to death in prison in 2005. The prison lacked a psychiatry department.

The report documents the fact that prisons today have become the new insane asylums with the same sort of abuses Americans thought had been eliminated. FAITH-BASED PRISONS WORK

There is a prison success story in Florida. Faith-based prisons have an impressive record.

According to a report from the Project for Accountable Justice at Florida State University:

– Thousands of prisoners are on wait lists to transfer to faith- based prisons where they find a number of self-help programs.

– People released from Wakulla Correctional Institution were 15 percent less likely to repeat crimes.

– Faith-based institutions have fewer discipline problems, up to 68 percent less.

So why doesn’t Florida do more of this?

In the last legislative session, lawmakers gutted major reform proposals, including an important recommendation for an independent oversight commission.

The fact is that Florida’s prison system has resisted reform efforts from well-meaning heads of the Department of Corrections, leading to a revolving door at the secretary’s office.

As The Palm Beach Post documented, legislators shelved a raft of good reforms:

– Release of some elderly prisoners.

– Guards with histories of excessive force would be barred from working closely with mentally ill inmates.

– Families would be allowed to pay for outside medical help for inmates.

– There will be no additional protection for whistleblowers in the Department of Corrections.

This isn’t even a partisan issue anymore in much of the nation.

Even if lower cost is the main motive, prison reforms are being supported elsewhere.FLORIDA BY THE NUMBERS

The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy produced some startling stats for the Sunshine State.

Inequality: Florida ranked No. 6 in the nation for the gap between the wealthy and the poor.

Foreclosures: In May, Florida had the nation’s highest foreclosure rate.

Family unfriendly: Florida ranked No. 43 in 2014 by AARP for services for the elderly, adults with disabilities and their caregivers.

Unfair tax system: Florida’s tax system is the second most regressive in the nation. The poorest 20 percent pay 13 percent of their income in state and local taxes; the wealthiest 1 percent pay just 2 percent in taxes.

Skimping on schools: Florida ranked No. 50 among the states for public elementary and revenue per $1,000 of personal income in fiscal 2013.HOW OPINIONS HAVE CHANGEDHere is how American views have changed regarding key social issues.ISSUE PERCENTAGE OF SUPPORTSame- sex marriage 27% (1996) 87% (2015)Interracial marriage 4% (1958) 87% (2013)Female president 33% (1937) 95% (2012)Jewish president 46% (1937) 91% (2012)Sources: Gallup, Pew Research Center

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