DEAR ABBY: From coast to coast we are buying land and building new jails. Also, from coast to coast we are closing our armed forces bases.
During World War II, we had hundreds of German prisoners of war in this country, and we did not build new jails. We put the prisoners on one part of an established military camp and made maintenance men and helpers out of them.
We, the taxpayers, own the land that the bases are on. Many bases have security systems for at least part of the base. There are buildings near most bases where the families of the armed forces lived, and now the families of the prison workers could live there. Have the prisoners keep every piece of equipment, every building and the grounds in perfect condition. Some might even learn a trade.
If there is a natural disaster, go to the nearest base and there is a shelter ready to move into -- the roads, lighting, etc., and all are in top condition and ready. Preparedness is a comforting and wonderful feeling.
Please do not use my name or address. Just sign me ... ANONYMOUS IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR ANONYMOUS: Your idea seems sensible to me. However, there are many reasons why our closed military bases are not being utilized as prisons. Among them are toxic wastes in some locations, substandard buildings, and the fact that landowners in adjacent communities fear it would devalue their property. Also, local governments would prefer to turn the bases into moneymakers to generate more tax revenue.