Friday, January 28, 2011

Make Sense, Save Billions

The prison debate in Michigan has become far too strained; it's turned to mush. Try this: If a prisoner does everything he is asked to do - abides by all R&GC recommendations, and serves his minimum too - send him home. It is time to stop the madness, this inhuman (and costly) effort to keep people locked up forever. The State can no longer afford it. Time to make sense.

There are over 10,000 men and women in Michigan's prisons who are parole-eligible; that is, they have served their minimum sentences set down by the courts. Yet, these people remain in prison at a cost to the State of over $30,000 per prisoner, per year. At the same time, Michigan wrestles with a budget deficit approaching two billion dollars.

Today, the State seeks ways to trim that deficit by cutting prison costs. Current strategies include lowing the quality of food on the prison menu, reducing health care access, and cutting back on educational opportunities for prisoners. Besides being ineffective, these strategies are wrong. Trying to find ways to scale back on food, health care, and education for prisoners is simply seeking ways to further neglect a captive population. Nothing positive is accomplished. For the nickels and dimes saved today, millions more will be spent tomorrow when those same hungry, sick, and uneducated prisoners are inevitably released back into their communities.

Cut a quarter of the prison population (parole-eligible prisoners), and automatically cut a quarter of staff (salaries), food costs, medical costs, energy costs, etc. With that single action, Michigan's prison budget would be slashed from its current 1.6 billion to 1.2 - a savings to the State of four billion dollars over the next ten years.

In the interim, Michigan will be left with a healthy prison system - not this bloated leech that sucks up monies meant to educate our children, and care for our elderly and our poor. Send parole-eligible prisoners home; educate the prisoners that remain. When they, too, eventually go home, their chances of success - based upon these positive reinforcements - will increase.

If this remedy sounds simplistic, that is because the solution to this problem is more simply than the complex brain-twister the powers in Lansing pretend that it is.

The parole board, too, must end its illogical aversion to paroling "violent offenders." A violent offender's minimum sentence is equally as legitimate as the minimum sentences ascribed to all other prisoners. The manslaughter convict should have as much hope of going home after serving his minimum as does the offender serving a 3 to 10 for home invasion. Saying a man sentenced to 15 to life must serve life makes as much sense as saying a man sentenced to 10 to 30 must serve 30.

Truly looking for answers? Try common sense. You will save time, money, and lives.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Heisman Hopeless

Nothing captures the NCAA's Svengali-like hold over its athletes like Reggie Bush bowing to the whims of the Heisman muckity-mucks.

They took his trophy - dully earned on the football field - because of a supposed indiscretion committed off it. No crime was committed, just a rule broken - one laid down by men so satiated with greed they think "down is up." Reggie folded as though they were Caesars.

"Return your Heisman," they said to Bush, "You've been naughty."

Bush said, "Okay."

Reggie is a wimp; no heart. He was supposed to say to those phonies: "If you want it, come and get it. And you'd better bring your boys."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Casting Stones

Have we become vampires? (We can't see ourselves!)

The U.S. has asked the U.N. to investigate N. Korea for war crimes after the North killed four S. Koreans in an artillery barrage. This request comes on the heels of a ten-year period during which the blood of 100,00 thousand people - many of them women and children - smear America's hands.

Did they remove all mirrors from the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department when, tho their wonder, they cast no reflection? (We don't want to see ourselves!) How else to explain the inexplicable way we chastise others for sins we commit ten-fold?

In what now may be called "The Lockerbie Scandal" (courtesy of Wikileaks), Libya apparently twisted some arms in the U.K. to get Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Megrahi, a medical parole. Turns out, Megrahi is not as sick as they had claimed. At the least, he has outlived their predictions of "three months to live."

Now America accuses Libya of "using its commercial might to get its way." Are we serious - "using money to get your way"? That is the American way - at home, and abroad. Yet, we have the gall to accuse another country of dabbling in that which we have mastered.

Through our commercial might, alone, we convinced a motley group of nations - call them "The Coalition of the Swilling" - to wage war against a fellow nation (Iraq) that had done them no harm.

Dracula might be amused at this distaste for our own reflection. No ones else should be.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Time Mothers Did Some Old-Fashioned Mothering

The other day, a five-year-old student's thumbs were duct-taped together to prevent her from sucking them. Apparently, the sucking sound had begun to annoy her teacher.

It turns out the child was "anxious," according to authorities who investigated the incident. The child had not seen her mother in over a year. That mother is a sergeant in the U.S. Army, stationed in Afghanistan.

The media immediately jumped the "cruel" teacher: "Who would do such a terrible thing to a poor child whose mother heroically serves her country?"

Who is more "cruel" here - the teacher who duct-taped the child's thumbs, or the mother who abandoned the child?

Certainly, "abandoned" is a strong word, but let's not waste time. The problem is not one of "thumb-sucking." Thumb-sucking is a symptom. The problem is abandonment. The teacher clumsily addressed the symptom, further exacerbating the problem. With or without the duct tape, the child suffers the unutterable sting of abandonment. (The fear of abandonment may haunt this child long after the duct tape is forgotten.)

This nation must decide what is more integral to its existence: a well-adjusted American child, or the rights of an American "Mom" to strap on a rifle and go off in the other direction.