Thursday, August 9, 2007

truz. toll. tales. tells it straight.

One of my collegues recently posted a blog concerning Perry's decision to veto a health insurance bill for community colleges, consequently raising the tution and fees in order to compensate for the loss this bill would have provided. I recommend you read this article if you are interested in hearing what this blogger has to say.

Click here to read the article, Dew right for the sake of community colleges.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Texas Behind Bars: An Unlearned Lesson

Today in my philosophy class, our discussion involved the cases against whether or not a human being possesses free will. Scientifically, there is very little room for free will, considering that our brains function off of neurological electric stimulations. Many would, with a Deterministic point of view, say that this relieves a person of their moral responsibilities- a scary issue for many people to ponder. I think it safe to generalize that most would take a different stand, one that requires responsibility, but does not place the blame solely on the suspect. For example, blame could fall to poor childhood discipline, bad parenting, extreme living conditions, genetic tendencies towards violence (which leads to socially defined crimes), etc.

The problem is, Texas doesn’t seem to care too much about solving the issues leading to crime; most people would rather send a convict back to prison for a repeated offense or a witness to a murder to death row on our “Law of Parties” case. Where do we draw the line between personal responsibility and community responsibility? Should a person be blamed for a lack of opportunity in life? Should they be condemned to life in prison or given a second chance to prove themselves productive in society? After all, productivity and efficiency is what American society’s main concern is, not necessarily the value of human life.

My mother just served 6 days as a juror for the State v. Harvey carjacking case. Harvey, who has been arrested for more that 10 prior offenses in other counties, carjacked a woman at gunpoint, “accidentally” shooting her in the process. While the woman is in great condition now, she suffered more than physical trauma. In another instance, Harvey kidnapped a 21 year old woman, forcing her to drive him to Austin and then asked for a hug when she dropped him off. My mom struggled every day of the trial trying to decide if she thought sending the 29 year old to prison for life would change anything. The fact is it wouldn’t. What decision was my mother forced with? To either let a man who shot a woman be released from custody or send him to an institution that will most likely break him, rebuild him in a more detrimental way, and on top of everything, teach him how to be a better criminal.

Both my aunt and uncle were in prison when I was a child on drug charges. They both got out after 3 years. Do you think they learned their lesson while in there? Absolutely not; they were both convicted on the same charges within a year of being released on bail.

The problems I see with our correctional institutions are these:

The State of Texas, as of 2003, has 51 prisons, 17 state jails, and 15 transfer facilities. There are only 4 psychiatric/mentally retarded facilities and 2 medical. Combined, that’s less than the 9 punishment facilities our state has for substance abuse felonies.

Once a person obtains a criminal record (mind you, our "justice" system isn't pure), their earning power is removed. What do we expect to happen then? They get a boost of morale and think, "Oh, well Welfare will save me." No. They will probably be more inclined to do what that can to make a living- even if it means breaking the law again.

“Texas today spends nearly $2.5 billion dollars each year to operate the state's correctional system,” (Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice). The rate of incarceration in TX has increased 100% since 1998. If our state can afford to have the largest rate of incarcerated citizens (10% more than our national rating and more than every other state), along with the largest amount of correctional spending, I think we should be able to throw a few bones in the direction of assisting the problems at the base of the issues.
For example, the Education Reform Bill that TX Senate passed last year allowed an extra 4 cents tax that went directly to school funds, with an additional 2 cents enrichment expected in 2009. How generous. Additionally, in 2006, more than 3.6 million Texans were below the poverty line. That’s about 17% of our population in poverty, not including the homeless population. While TX is doing a good job of reducing this number, less than $700 dollars per capita is spent on programs to aid the impoverished by the state/local budget.

I believe that many issues, mainly poverty and education, are keys to the crime problem in our state. I think that instead of prison, we need rehabilitation- both physical and mental. While I do not excuse Harvey from his responsibility as a Texas citizen to heed the laws established in our society, throwing him in jail for at least 30 years will do nothing to help him or our state other than removing him from the immediate public burden. If we do nothing to fix these problems, we will just continue in the endless cycle of throwing one guy in prison while the little 8 year old kid in the slums learns how to steal dinner for the family from the local convenience store.

We need to crack down on the real issue here. Give people an opportunity to succeed, and they’ll grab it, but tell them they’re destined to fail and what do you get? A menace to society: Made in Texas.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Who stole the cookie from the profit jar? US? Noo..

For more than a year, I have heard the "conspiracy theories" about war profiteering in Iraq. I never took any to heart, considering the lack of national attention to the issue (only recently have I learned about the total of 4 corporations that own our media).
It seems to me a matter that needs intense investigation, but is it even possible to accomplish any of that in today's government?
Are we really so secure in our imperialistic government that we believe no one could possibly be undermining this war, not even the CEO of Halliburton whose tax payments on Iraqi reconstruction went from $302 million to zero in one year or received $85 million in refunds from the IRS?
Just last week three Texas family members were arrested on charges of bribery in Iraqi reconstruction fraud. Aparently this is the largest fraud (approx. $15 million) dedected since the last largest of $4 million. The sad part is that no one is questioning where this money the alleged are accused of accepting came from. Everyone is too worried at how apalling this is considering one suspect is a Major in the US Army who served two years in Kuwaait.
Regardless of the family's outcome, this matter is one that should continue to go unchecked.
Read the article here.
To read a related article, click here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

chcheck it out

I've created a new page element with links to all of my classmate's relevant blogs. Check them out to the right!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pumped up? Maybe not.

Is approving the steroid-tests for fall a hasty decision by a politician's ambition or will it have its benefits to enrich our public schools' sports programs? While I would lean closer to the former, I believe the answer is neither.

Although steroid testing seems to be a great advocate for the anti-drug campaign in the Texas UIL systems, I agree with the editor here when he mentions we may have more important things to fix our focus on.

It would not be reasonable to jeopardize a student's entire sports-career based on a faulty drug-test. The fact that "not many" students actually need the over-the-counter dietary supplements which trigger the false positive is beside the point.
One advocate for administering the test for this fall's football season despite its faults suggested that "most students don't really need the supplements and they're expensive." That, unfortunately is not his decision. If a student can be suspended based on a faulty steroid test, then the test should not be administered until the faults are fixed. The $3 million/year cost of holding off the (minimum) $110 tests until they are up to par should have been considered before signing agreement to the $6 million dollar faulty program.

Again, as the editor mentioned, it seems alcohol and illegal drug abuse are a higher risk, considering their greater consumption, to our students. Why not direct extra effort to the betterment of those tests? Especially if there are very few significant cases of steroid abuse...

Click here to read the editorial "Rush to test for steroids imperils Texas athletes".

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Thanks for viewing my blog "Deep in the Heart". Hopefully I will be able to spark a discussion once in a while, or at least give you an interesting conversation starter. I appreciate any comments and responses to my blog. Feel free to add my site to your blogroll as well!

-Kim Rinehart