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September 08, 1978 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1978-09-08

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Page Stra, Sepomber 9, 1 978-The Michigan Daily
Eighty-Nine Years of Editorial Freedom
Vol. LIX, No. 3 News Phone: 764-0552
Saturday, September 9, 1978
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
Smith's intransigence spurs
Rhodesian plane massacre


sentencing makc

prisons hotbed of violence

By Mark Shwartz

IT WAS INDEED a tragedy when a
Rhodesian plane carrying 56
civilian passengers was downed over
the Zambian border by black
nationalist guerrillas. But it was an
outrage that 10 of the 18 crash
survivors were gunned down. The
Rhodesian government blames the
black nationalist. The guerrillas claim
credit for bringing the plane down but
not for the massacre which followed.
What is most unfortunate is that it
seems this savageness will not only
continue but lead to a blood-bath in the
streets of Salibury, the nation's
Both sides are digging in - readying
their troops for the big battle. Joshua
Nkomo, co-leader of the black
nationalist Patriotic Front, has .said
his men brought down the plane. If
Nkomo's claim to downing the plane is
true, it would be the first incident of its
kind in Rhodesian conflict and proof
that warfare is escalating.
It would also indicate that Nkomo is
receiving sophisticated weaponry
from an outside source - probably the
Soviet Union. Such support, if it exists,
would go a long way to help decide the
nature and final outcome of the
Rhodesian conflict.
On the other hand, Rhodesian Prime
Minister Ian Smith said Wednesday he
will announce within the next two
weeks a "new course" of action in his
government's struggle against the
guerrillas' escalating activities. The
implication is that strong military
action may be on the way.
The outlook for the British-American
peace initiative looks dismal in light of
these recent events. For a short time it
seemed as though peace was a
possibility. There were rumors that
Smith was meeting secretly with
Nkomo - the rumors proved true.
There was also some talk that Nkomo
would be included in the transitional
government - hardly plausible now.
But who's to blame for the
breakdown? If we are to believe Smith,
the guerrillas appear to be vicious

murderers unwilling to negotiate a just
settlement. And certainly press
reports from Rhodesia would lend
some credence to that claim. We have
read stories about massacres of blacks
who continue to work for whites and of
missionaries who, if anything,
sympathized with the black
Rhodesians' dreams of equality.
But many, including Ambassador
Andrew Young, have raised doubt
about who actually conducted these
massacres. Nkomo has always denied
that his guerrillas were involved. In
fact, although he says his group
downed the plane, this week he
disavowed any role in the murder of
the 10 survivors. Nkomo said they fired
on the plane because that type of
aircraft was being used by the military
to transport troops and war materials.
Moreover, a revolutionary group
fighting to dispose a racist regime
needs the support, at least in spirit, of
the outside world. Nkomo is an
intelligent man, it seems unlikely that
he would allow a massacre of women
and children at the risk of losing much-
needed popular support.
Smith and his government have tried
everything to maintain white
supremacy in Rhodesia. And now
Smith is using these massacres to
delay the transition to a still white
controlled, black-faced system. A
cabinet minister told the white
parliament this week it will be
impossible to hold universal elections
by December 31, the planned day for
black majority rule under the biracial
transitional government's internal
Smith has been, and probably will
continue to be, the obstacle to a quick,
peaceful transition to black majority
rule in Rhodesia. Now more than ever,
political and economic pressure from
every corner of the world must be put
on Smith to step aside and allow the
inevitable to occur, without further

A new, hard-nosed judicial
approach to prison sentencing,
especially in those states that
have recently enacted the liberal
reform of determinate sentences,
has resulted in dangerous over-
crowding, volatile prison
conditions from California to
Ironically, the determinate
sentencing laws passed by four
states, which were intended to
ease frustration and anxiety in
prisons, already might be
contributing to even worse
conditions, according to penal
specialists. And in the near
furure, according to corrections
officials, the situation can be
expected to reach catasstrophic
proportions as the impact of
longer determinate sentences are
felt in the ever-swelling prison
CALIFORNIA, Illinois, Indiana
and Maine, have implemented
determinate, or fixed, sentencing
laws. A determinate code will go
into effect in Arizona on Oct. 1.
And the federal government and
other (including Michigan) states
are considering similar laws.
The purpose of the laws is to
create auuniform, less arbitrary
method of sentencing than weas
dealt out by indeterminate
sentencing. For example, instead
of handing down a sentence of one
year to life for armed robbery, a
judge might give a fixed sentence
of four years.
But an unexpected result has
been that public pressure has led
judges to set longer sentences
than convicts were averaging
under the determinate laws.
Thus, as more convicts stay in
prison longer, the populations
will swell.
sentence, said Phil Guthrie,
spokesman for the California
Department of Corrections,
"puts the heat right on the judge"
instead of the parole board,
which used to be responsible for
deciding when a prisoner should
be released. "There is very little
sympathy for the prisoner in
most parts of the country. Judges
are being ousted in an
unprecedented way because of
court-watching (citizen groups)
and all that."
David Petrocchi, a California
Department of Corrections
researcher, said that "one of the
things that has always been an
unknown factor in the effects of
determining sentencing is how
judges will behave ... A judge
has so much discretion at his
fingertips. If he increases his
prison commitments from eight
per cent to ten per cent, prison
admissions go up 20 per cent."
Another reason for the rising
state prison population is that

more judges are sending more
defendants to prison instead of
local jails, according to the
Judicial Council of California.
"Also," said a council
spokesperson, "it's more
attractive to plead guilty now
that your sentence will be limited
to 16 months or two years -
minus good time."
CALIFORNIA state courts sent
more than 4,400 male felons to
prison in the first half of the year,
the highest six-month total in
California history and a 22 per
cent increase over the same
period in 1977. The total state
male prison population jumped
from 17,000 in January to nearly

"He said the population of the
state's ten prisons, now
estimated at 10,700, has
increased 50 per cent in the last
two years.
"We're in the process of
building two new medium-
security prisons," Colby said,
"but that won't be enough."
He pointed to the July 22 violent
upheaval at the Pontiac prison
that left three guards dead and
three inmates injured. Although
he said the prison was built to
hold 1,200, there were over 2,000
prisoners there at the time of the
"THERE ARE other reasons
for overcrowded prisons," Colby

Ho ,
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While some states have
reduced the length of time an ex,
convict must serve on parole
Maine has eliminated parole and
all forms of post-prison
Of the four states in which fixed
sentencing has been in effect,
only Indiana does not have a"
overcrowding problem.
Since the new sentencing code
went into operation last October,
the adult prison population has
remained at about the same
level, after an initial decrease,
according to Tom Hanlon,
administrative assistant for the
Indiana Adult Authority or parole
ONE REASON for the stable
population could be Indiana's
liberal "good time" law that
allows a prisoner to get a
sentence cut in half for good
But the picture may not be so
bright in Arizona, where a
determinate sentencing la
takes effect in October. The
courts have ordered
administrators to sharply reduc
the convict population at th
Arizona State Prison in Florenc
to avoid overcrowding. As a
result,thevlegislature has
allocated about $30 million for
planning and construction of new
institutions. But even with that, a
spokesman for the department of
corrections in Phoenix expressed
concern over whether the state
"will be able to keep up with a
constantly increasing prison
Congress also is considering a
major change in federal
sentencing guidelines under a
controversial act that would
totally revamp the federal
criminal code.
AMONG OTHER provisions,
the bill would eliminate federal
parole, establish a sentencing
range for specific offenses and
create a sentencing commission.
"The Carter administration-
and the Justice Department are:
in favor of it," said Mike Quinlan,
assistant to the U.S. Bureau of
Prisons director. "All indications
are that it will not pass the House
this year, although it has passed
the Senate."
Quinlan said a federal study
has projected an initial increase]
in the federal prison population if
the bill goes into effect.
"But our considered opinion is
that a new sentencing
commission would lower the
sentencing guidelines to enable
the prison population to
decrease," he saud.
Quinlan said that the 38 federal
prisons now hold 29,000 convicts,
an increase of about 6,000 since
Mark Shwartz is an editor of
Pacific News Servicewho
monitors criminal justice;

18,200 today.
"The prison population is going
up faster than we predicted,"
said Jerry Enmoto, California
correstions director, "and this is
primarily the result of a big
increase in prison commitmentsd
by the courts. If this keeps up, we
will face serious overcrowding
and extensive dould-celling in
just a few months."
The only solution, Enmoto
believes, is to allocate more
money for new prison
construction, something most
states are decidedly unwilling to
ROBERT COLBY, spokesman
for the Illinois state prison
system, which was rocked by
violence this summer, said
Illinois prisons are "already
severely overcrowded. Because
of the new sentencing law that
went into effect on BFebruary 1,"
he said, "we do anticipate an
increase in the number of prison
commitments. Judges are giving
more severe sentences."

said. "The economic condition
has something to do with it. And
there is no Vietnam - there isn't
a war. Young people of the crime-
prone age are not getting killed."
The experience in Maine - the
first state to institute
determinate sentencing -
reflects conditions in California
and Illinois but on a much
smaller scale. ,
"We have experienced a
significant increase in the adult
prison population," said Peter
Tilton, assistant director of
Maine's probation and parole
division. "At our two main adult
institutions, we've gone from not
being overcrowded to
overcrowded. But we're still
trying out just what the imact of
the new sentencing law has
Maine State Prison increased
from 350 to 500 in the last two
years partly because the "mood
of the times" has resulted in
longer prison terms, Tilton said.

State should support
public education first


O CTOBER 1 will mark the beginning of
a $6.2 million state funded tuition aid
program in Michigan. But don't start lining
up at the financial aid office to get your
share because you aren't eligible; the
program is for private colleges only.
Were the state living up to its re-
sponsibility to public education, this plan
might not seem so misguided. Catainly the
cost of attending a private college is a heavy
burden, and if the state had the extra funds
we might support the aid plan. But
considering the inadequate funding the state
is currntly providing for public education,
aid to private schools is unthinkable.
In about four weeks, the Univasity will
send you the first in a series of unwanted
missives - your first tuition installmet.
And at the risk of depressing you- even
further, for the ninth time in the last ten
years that bill will be considerably higher
than the previous year's. The Regents
absolve themselves of the blame for
pemnial tuition hikes, pointing a collective;
firger at the state legislator's failure to
provide adequate support.
This time, the Regents are right. Michigan
ranks a scandalous 37th out of 50 states in
funding of private education at the
univesity level. The problem is not because
the state doesn't have the money to

adequately support this institution, and
othes like it in the state. Rather, it is simply
a matter of priorities, and for many years the
legislature and governor have clearly shown
that public education ranks low on their list.
And now we are faced with the ultimate
insult-the state $6.2 nilion of our tax
dollars to send students to private schools.
Pesons who choose to go to private schools
make that choice of their own free will, and
with full knowledge that it will be an
expensive venture. If it is sufficiently
important to then they will pay the extra
dollars. If not, they can attend the public
schools with the rest of us. But under no
ciumtancesshould public funds be used to
subsidize private institutions while tuition at
public schools becomes more and nmre
This Univasity is a prime example of the
effect of insufficient funding. We are rapidly
pricing ourselves out of the range of low-
middle and even the middle class, and at the
rate we are going it won't be long before
even the upper middle class will be unable to
afford the University. This undemiines the
very concept of public education, which is to
provide schooling for everyone regard-
less of his or her socio-economic status.
Thursday, a grup of educators launched
a petition drive to halt dispersal of the funds
until the votes can voice their opinion on
the program. If they garner the 132,851
signatures they need, the refaendum will be
placed on the November 1980 ballot. This is
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If you read, you're literate

To the Daily:
I was pleased to read of the
college of Literature, Science and
the Arts' decision to emphasize
writing in all classes, described
in an editorial by Daily reporter
Elisa Isaccson. As a teacher I
know that writing is learned
through practice and many
remedial skills programs fail
to successfully help students to
write in the many content areas
they are required of at the
But I object to Isaacson's un-
fortunate use of the word
literacy: "the university
recognizesthe lack of literacy
among many of it's students'.

Literacy is the ability of a person
to read and write. A student's
failure to understand a difficult
textbook or record their thoughts
about James Joyce on paper,
does not mean they can't read a
novel, or write a letter to a friend.
There are countries that face
problems of teaching a largely
illiterate population to read and
write. In the U.S., particularly
at majoruniversities, we do not
have that problem. Instead, we
face the challenge of expanding
our written abilities to their fur-
thest capability.
It is extremely important for
educators and reporters to ac-

curately define the challenges we
face. In that way, we can respond
in a well thought out fashion, and

not chase wildly after non-
existent monsters:
-Debra Goodman

..... ... . v. . ""
Submissions of essay and opinion to the
Daily's Editorial page should be typed and
triple spaced. They will be returned to the
author only if a request is made to do so.
Publication is based on conciseness, clarity of
thought and writing, and overall appeal.
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