Monday, November 26, 2007

Criminal Rehabilitation: Good or Bad?

Many in Texas have their opinion about how to handle those entangled in the criminal justice system. The typical conservative is for the death penalty and harsh prison sentences. Liberals are usually against the death penalty and push for inmate rehabilitation. Others are stuck in the middle. Whatever your view may be, all can agree something must be done. Currently Texas spends $2.8 billion on adult prisons a year, which is triple the amount spent in 1990.

While I may agree with the harsh prison sentences, I also see why people argue for rehabilitation. I do not believe people should be let off easy for crimes they commit. And prison itself should not be a cake walk. Upon exiting prison one should have it in their mind that that is one place they never want to go again. With that said, I think rehabilitation could help some. When most exit prison they have no money, no skills and no back up plan. Many may feel a life of crime may be the only way to attain an income. With odds stacked against them, they wind up back in jail. The state of Texas realizes this, and has subsequently expanded rehabilitation services by way of giving $217 million this year for these programs. Perhaps by providing rehabilitation services for present and former inmates, drug treatment programs and psychological counseling some will feel a sense hope and determination. Knowing they have skills under their belt, they may be more likely to try to join the working population. Many argue against rehabilitation, feeling that it is not our responsibility to take care of criminals. But I look at it from a different point of view. Giving a person job skills will give them the hope of a life without criminal activity and a brighter future. If crime goes down, our communities will be safer. And who can argue against a safer world for both ourselves and generations to come?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Roots or Politics? I say neither.

I agree with the opinion stated in atexansopinion’s blog titled “Roots or politics?” To often in today’s culture we form opinions on others based on outward appearances. In the political world I image this problem to cause the most damage on a more local level. In an everyday Texas small town there are those who have the right last name and right resources to quickly push themselves to the forefront. Others face the challenge of surpassing the more well known candidate at election time. Also, if they are not independently wealthy they are forced to fight for contributions. After all, most are likely to donate to someone who they believe will win. They must also hope that their political platform impresses those in the community more than that of their opponent. The odds may be stacked against them, but they can overcome if people better inform themselves and make decisions based on principles rather than name recognition.

I believe this way of thinking goes beyond voting a person into office. Research should be done on anything prior to voting. The clich├ęd expression “knowledge is power” applies here. Before a proposition comes up for vote one should educate themselves on both sides of the issue and then make a reasoned decision on how to cast their ballot. As Texans and Americans we should demand our lawmakers be held accountable for their actions. Ask questions. Get involved. Never take anyone’s word and do not trust someone to have your local or state government in best interest just because of who they are or who they know. With Texas’s already low voter turnout rate, making an informed decision can only help to insure that democracy is practiced with the highest regard.