Thumbs up to Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos and his department for its "Safe Passage" program, which launched this week.

For decades, harsh arrest-first drug policies have packed American jails and prisons with users, while keeping addicts out of programs that could save their lives.

Safe Passage, gaining traction throughout the country, flips the outdated approach on its head, acknowledging that addiction isn't the result of a criminal constitution. Instead, users can turn in their drugs and paraphernalia without threat of arrest. It also opens access to treatment programs.

Steps such as this are hugely important amid the American opioid epidemic, a scourge that's literally destroying some communities. 

The War on Drugs did little but destroy lives and boost spending on jails and prisons. Rock Island's Safe Passage program, instead, people a way out.

Thumbs down to the death penalty, which some in Iowa Legislature hope to bring back after decades.

Thankfully, close study of the issue by a key lawmaker in the House could send this legislation to the gallows where it belongs.

Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, said this week that he was surprised by the legitimate issues about fairness he found when he dove into the capital punishment issue. Holt happens to be chairman of the subcommittee where the bill either lives or dies.

The American criminal justice system is a fine creation, one that genuinely strives for the truth. But, as mountains of DNA evidence has shown in recent years, the system makes plenty of mistakes. And they're mistakes that could never be corrected if the wrongly accused is already dead. 

Thumbs up to city officials in Moline and Bettendorf who, through varied methods, found two highly qualified internal candidates for chief of police.

John Hitchcock was sworn in this week as Moline's top cop. The city received 49 applicants from 16 states, officials said. Ultimately, Moline officials settled on Hitchock, a long-time member of the department who worked his way through the ranks.

Bettendorf officials didn't see a need for a nationwide search, since three of its senior officers applied for chief. Bettendorf City Council is expected to approve Captain Keith Kimball's appointment next week.

Both men offer a deep knowledge of their communities and departments. 

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