Editorial roundup: Views from around Georgia | Editorials

Brunswick News: Ossoff’s scrutiny is also needed in other areas

The nation can only hope that US Sen. Jon Ossoff scrutinizes the effectiveness of the frequently criticized Department of Veterans Affairs with the same ardor as he is the US Bureau of Prisons. In short, the Democrat from Georgia wants to know why inmates at federal prisons are acting badly.

The answer might not be what he and other members of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations think it is. While Michael Carvajal, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons until he resigned in January, should explain why the bureau failed to react responsibly and quickly to serious problems at the prisons he oversaw, he is not solely to blame for criminals acting like criminals.

Sen. Ossoff is not the only one asking questions. Other Democrats, as well as Republicans on the committee, want answers too. They grilled Carvajal during a hearing in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.

Unsurprisingly, the ex-bureau chief told those who were listening that he was unaware of many of the problems. Subordinates shielded him from certain issues, he claimed. Few committee members swallowed that.

Among other things, committee members sought to understand how prison inmates manage to escape and why contraband like drugs and weapons flows as freely as the Mississippi River through the prison system. At the prison in Atlanta, issues include inadequate health care, disgusting food and staffing shortages. At the FCI Dublin women’s prison, instances of sexual abuse are commonplace.

Sen. Ossoff is right to try to get to the root of the matter, but it is too easy and too convenient to dump all the blame on a single person. In addition to considering the kind of men and women who generally end up behind bars, he might try doing a little math. How much funding is the federal government investing in keeping prisons safe? It is obviously not enough if inmates are able to add to their offenses while locked up. Overcrowding? If that is the case, then why was there an effort to shut down the prison facility in Charlton County?

Prisons should not be Hilton hotels, but neither should they be cesspools. Nor should they be dense of blatantly wild and destructive behavior.

If Sen. Ossoff and his fellow senators succeeded in sorting out the prison mess, the VA ought to be their next stop. Veterans are still complaining that they are not getting the help promised to them when they committed to military service. Their treatment is just as deserving of proper attention.

Valdosta Daily Times: Traffic fatalities increasing

Traffic fatalities are on the rise in Georgia.

The Department of Transportation reports 1,844 people died on our roads in 2021 and that is up by 125 deaths from the previous year.

It looks like 2022 could be even worse.

Traffic safety officials say 76% of the fatalities are caused by unsafe driving, including distractions, impairment or driving too fast for conditions.

Distracted driving is a huge part of the problem.

Despite the fact that Georgia is a hands-free state — with some of the strongest distracted driving laws in the country — many of you are still texting and driving.

Please put your phone down when you are behind the wheel.

Texting and driving can be, and often is, fatal.

What is it going to take to get you to stop texting and driving?

Georgia’s hands free law has been in place for a few years now and still it is quite common to see people driving on the road, phone in hand, looking down and texting away.

The law prohibits drivers from having a phone or stand-alone electronic device in their hands or touching any part of their body while operating a motor vehicle on Georgia roads.

A Bluetooth speakerphone, earpiece, electronic watch or wireless headset is allowed as long as it is not being operated by the driver’s hand. The use of GPS and navigational devices are allowed, but drivers cannot have a phone in their hand or supported by any part of their body. The law is designed to prevent cellphones from interfering with a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle and keep attention on the road.

The law allows drivers to use “hands-free” technology to make or receive phone calls and use GPS devices, but drivers cannot at any time use their phones to write, read or send text messages, emails, social media and internet data. The use of voice-to-text technology is allowed.

Also, the hands-free law prohibits drivers from watching videos as well as recording videos, although GPS navigational videos and continuously running dash cams are permitted. You can listen to music through streaming apps on your phone, but you cannot activate their apps or change music through the phone while driving.

Music streaming apps programmed and controlled through the vehicle’s radio system are allowed. Music streaming apps that also have video are not allowed since the law specifically prohibits drivers from watching videos.

Anyone still confused about what they are allowed to do when driving, you cannot have a phone in your hands or on any part of your body if you want to make or receive a phone call or use GPS. You cannot legally text, email or surf the internet on your phone while driving.

Simply put, stop texting and driving.

The life you save could be your own or someone you love.

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