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Oct. 3, 2013: Syria; inmate books; guns and elections

There's 'evidence' that Assad used chemicals?Editor:You say there is "evidence" that Assad used chemical weapons in Syria. You seem more certain than either Britain or Russia.I applaud the intelligence-gathering capability of The Charleston Gazette.David N. RyanSpencer Let W.Va. inmates receive books againEditor:Inmates at the South Central Regional Jail are no longer able to receive books by request, as of September. A few fiction books, like Westerns, sci-fi and romance novels, are made available to the jail population there, but these are hardly quality literature. Nonfiction and classics are not available. Oftentimes, sending books by request to incarcerated loved ones, friends or family members is the only way for inmates to access good reading material. Books help inmates pass the time, but are also necessary for inmates to try to educate themselves. While 70 percent of the jail and prison population across the country reads at a fourth-grade reading level, it is important for inmates to have access to quality books and magazines that can help boost literacy levels.Many positive benefits have been documented for inmates who have access to reading materials. Prison and jail inmates who read books, magazines and other materials have higher rates of literacy than inmates who never read. When comparing inmates who read in jail, versus those who don't, those who read have a better chance they won't return to the jail system -- living healthier and more productive lives after completing their sentences. Many inmates and prisoners throughout our history have turned their lives around through reading and writing while incarcerated. Some have even become authors.Until now, the Charleston jail allowed requested books to be sent directly to inmates from book publishers and Amazon. The West Virginia Regional Jail Authority can and should reinstate its policy and allow inmates to have books mailed to them at the South Central Regional Jail and other jails across our state.Stacy GlossCharleston
 Take care of our own people firstEditor:Many people in the United States are without adequate food, health care and jobs, especially in West Virginia. Why does President Obama think we need to help Syria with their civil war?Let's concentrate on taking care of our own people.Betty C. McClung
Charleston Gun stance will be key in coming electionsEditor:As the 2016 presidential election approaches and a Senate race here in West Virginia is upon us, they bring a few thoughts to mind.The gun-control lobby just suffered a solid defeat in Colorado recall elections that were well funded by Mayors Against Illegal guns. The NRA spent less than half and walked away with a win. Politicos on both sides are now at a crossroads with a large number of voters from both parties who tend to vote on this issue alone.Folks running for national and state offices will now have to answer tough questions from voters. Their response will affect the votes. They will have to have solid positions. Where they stand on concealed-carry permits, so-called "assault weapons," semi-automatic weapons, high-capacity magazines, background checks for private sales and an outright ban will be posed to them. Yes or no will be the best way to answerer most. Just look at Colorado for a lesson on this very subject.Gun politics will be a deciding factor in many states. Many voters are keenly listening to the people running for office. They will have to have a solid stance, one way or the other. The one thing to think about is that gun owners vote in every election and their vote lies largely with the Second Amendment issue.Scott CarrCharleston
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