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Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018 12:19 am

Letters to the Editor 12/6/18



I read Bruce Rushton’s latest article about the ALPLM and its foundation (“Another day, another circus,” Nov. 29) with interest, as always, and wanted to clarify a few items.

First, as executive director of the ALPLM, I share Mr. Rushton’s concerns about our support foundation’s behavior. The lack of transparency is troubling, and I have made it clear that I am not pleased with their actions. That being said, the Taper Collection is truly amazing and simply must stay here in the Land of Lincoln, regardless of questions about one particular item.

Beyond that, my main concern is that Mr. Rushton is not seeing the forest for the trees. The ALPLM is so much more than the hat, the Taper collection or our foundation.

Since I arrived here in 2016, working with our amazing team, we have made major reforms that have professionalized our operations and given us a great foundation for the future. Among other things, we have added staff, streamlined our research services, improved security and introduced long-term planning of exhibits and marketing. We’ve strengthened our connections to schools around the state and established new partnerships with institutions like the Gilder Lehrman Institute and the White House Historical Association.

Mr. Rushton specifically notes the Papers of Abraham Lincoln (PAL). I am very proud of what we have accomplished with the PAL these last two years. We undertook a much-needed change of management and brought in a team of national experts to help us rebuild the project. We now have effective procedures, a terrific new director who is a national leader in the field, and a website with more than 5,000 annotated documents that is growing daily.

We have a dedicated team of professionals here every day who love this place and are determined to make it even better. Getting too focused on the problems with our foundation, which is a separate organization, or obsessed with one item in a collection of thousands, is unfair to this institution.

Alan Lowe, executive director
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum


Thank you, Fletcher Farrar, for your excellent article on the expungement summit (“Off the record,” Nov. 22), where volunteer lawyers and others helped ex-offenders fill out complicated paperwork to get their criminal records expunged or sealed.

While the ex-offenders were the chief beneficiary of the summit, in reality it will benefit all of us. That’s because most crimes are committed by people who committed crimes before. Forty percent of offenders released from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) reoffend within three years.

It is tough to get a job and earn an honest living when you have a criminal record. That’s why so many ex-offenders reoffend. Helping these folks clean up their criminal records greatly increases the odds that they’ll be able to land a job, earn an honest living and not reoffend.

Along these same lines, IDOC used to run 12 Adult Transition Centers throughout Illinois where, within a year or two before release, offenders would be incarcerated but leave the transition facility to work at jobs. Recidivism statistics showed this greatly helped these folks transition to successful crime-free lives after prison. In a “penny wise pound foolish” move for “budgetary reasons,” all but four of these transition centers were closed, including ones in Decatur, Urbana, Carbondale and Rockford. One Decatur restaurant owner told me she liked hiring workers from the transition center because “they always showed up for work.”

Hopefully, the new Pritzker administration will see the benefit to all of us of reopening some of the shuttered transition centers and in helping ex-offenders become upstanding members of our society and thereby reduce crime.

Sam Cahnman


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Wednesday June 26th