ISSUE | PUBLIC SAFETY

Consider the victims

A commentary about reform of the criminal justice system advocated better pay for public defenders ("Reforming the justice system," Monday). It lacked mention of or concern for the victims of crime in our city. Where are the advocates of crime victims in this discussion of reform?

Those of us who are active in our neighborhoods - I am a Town Watch member - see the devastation that crime inflicts on the victim and the community. Both are violated when crime occurs, yet our leaders don't talk about the victim's rights. Before Mayor Kenney and the city's leaders worry about the plight of the criminal justice system, they should show support and concern for victims young and old who try to do the right thing every day.

|Joe Eastman, advisory council,

Police Third District, Philadelphia, comservinit@yahoo.com

ISSUE | SEXUAL ABUSE

Enabling church

The Rev. Michael J. Matveenko wrote that "just 2 percent of all priests ordained in this country since 1950 have been accused" of sexual abuse ("Church reform," Monday). The issue is not the percentage of priests who have committed "such monstrous crimes." The issue is a corrupt and enabling Catholic Church hierarchy that covered up the abuse, allowed it to continue, and still thwarts prosecution of priests who are sexual offenders.

Supporting the Catholic Church means that you are supporting a corrupt institution. I note this as a former Catholic who attended Catholic schools.

|Jane Weiss, Philadelphia

A positive influence

Thanks to the Rev. Michael J. Matveenko for voicing my thoughts about the Catholic Church. I went through 14 years of Catholic education and never came across a bad priest. My faith is most important to me.

|Janet McGill, North Wales

ISSUE | HOUSING

Moorestown's needs

Moorestown's affordable-housing plan is actually two plans - one showing how it would build 386 units and the other for 406 units ("Moorestown criticized on affordable housing plan," Friday).

The number 386 comes from the 2014 regulations that were proposed but not adopted by the state Council on Affordable Housing. Because Moorestown did not receive guidance from Superior Court in Burlington County on the number of units needed, the township used a ruling by Superior Court Judge Thomas C. Miller for its plans.

Moorestown also decided that it lacks the land to be required to provide 1,477 new units - the number the Fair Share Housing Center, an advocacy group, contends the township needs.

Moorestown and other municipalities hired Econsult Solutions to develop affordable-housing numbers. Moorestown's number, 171, was not available for the November filing deadline. Moorestown's plans for 386 and 406 units would provide more than double the necessary units.

A special master appointed by Superior Court Judge Ronald E. Bookbinder has recommended that the township zone for 1,313 affordable units. However, the circumstances under which the special master wrote her report have changed.

|Brian M. Slaugh, Moorestown housing consultant, Trenton

ISSUE | GAS PRICES

A taxing question

Why are taxis still charging a gas surcharge when oil prices are way down?

|Gail Lindo, Philadelphia

ISSUE | U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS

Diplomacy helps stave off conflicts

Because of diplomacy, Iran's capacity to build a nuclear weapon is at least 15 years away instead of a few months, experts have projected ("Iran deal complete," Sunday). The historic agreement that took effect Saturday makes the United States and the world safer. I applaud the negotiators who worked it out and the Obama administration for championing it. Sens. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D., Pa.) and Cory Booker (D., N.J.) helped pass the agreement.

Naysayers who contended that Iran would never honor its obligations have been proven wrong. Instead of sanctions or war, the United States and the international community peacefully prevented Iran from developing nuclear weapons through negotiations.

Improved diplomatic relations also secured the prompt return of 10 U.S. sailors who had mistakenly wandered into Iranian territory and the release of 12 detainees by the two countries. This shows that diplomacy can generate momentum for peacefully solving difficult and potentially explosive disputes.

For information about diplomacy as a realistic alternative to war, go to peacecoalition.org or call the Coalition for Peace Action at 609-924-5022.

|Rev. Robert Moore, executive director, Coalition for Peace Action, Princeton, cfpa@peacecoalition.org

Release of Americans cost $100 billion

I can understand the White House's need to claim that Iran's release of 10 American sailors and five civilians was a victory for our diplomacy. Although it would have been less diplomatic, it would have been more honest to admit that their release was more the result of an almost-simultaneous $100 billion ransom payment.

|Arthur Rabin, Wynnewood, aandsrabin@verizon.net

ISSUE | CANCER

Shooting the moon

As a medical miracle, an 11-year survivor of a pancreatic tumor who owes his life to the doctors at the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center, I appreciate Vice President Biden's visit there Friday and his comments concerning a "moon shot" quest to cure the disease.

President Richard M. Nixon and other politicians have declared a "War on Cancer" and failed. To make significant progress in fighting cancer, we need to know a lot more about how and why cancer cells grow and spread, and a lot more about such subtle matters as how the body's immune system works.

Without the Obama administration's impassioned leadership, new funding, and sharing of research, there will be minimal improvement in treating the disease.

|Ernest B. Cohen, Upper Darby

The earlier the better for mammograms

I am angry. A 38-year-old woman has been diagnosed with breast cancer after discovering a lump confirmed by a mammogram - her first. She is the mother of four children under age 8.

My mother, a widow with two young daughters, was diagnosed with breast cancer at 39 in 1946, long before mammograms started.

So why am I angry? Last week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued its final recommendation that women 50 to 74 should get routine screening once every two years ("Guidelines endorse later mammograms," Jan. 12).

Why not start screening at 40?

"While screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years may reduce the risk for breast cancer death, the number of deaths averted is smaller than that in older women," the task force concluded.

Just one life saved by an early mammogram is a victory.

A cancer diagnosis is devastating. One of my daughters is a 15-year survivor of primary lymphoma of the bone diagnosed at age 39. I have been diagnosed with lung cancer twice.

Say a prayer for the 38-year-old woman and all the women who have gone before her and will, unfortunately, come after her until a cure for breast cancer is discovered.

|Sandra Schwartz, Berlin, Schwartz148@verizon.net

ISSUE | ECONOMY

Diploma and a decent job just don't cut it

My daughter is 28, single, and makes $50,000 a year. She worked hard in school, went to a good college, and received an advanced degree. Unlike many, she found a job in her field.

Taxes and high-deductible health insurance take one-third of her income. Student loans cost $300 a month; lodging, $1,000. Her take-home pay is $335 a week and has to cover food, utilities, clothing, and transportation. She can't afford a car, a savings account, paying down credit-card debt, her health-care deductible in an emergency, or having children.

She pursued the American Dream and did everything she was supposed to do, and this is her reality. She has not even reached the middle class, and her friends are in the same boat. Something must change.

|Karen Grady, Philadelphia