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January 16, 2014 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-01-16

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4A - Thursday, January 16, 2014

i f

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Life after parole
Michigan bill will certify parolee employment eligibility
In recent years, Michigan parolees have faced tremendous difficulty
gradually re-integratinginto society. Specifically, many ex-convictshave
endured trouble in attaining employment - one of the most important
steps to prevent recidivism. From 2001 to 2012, Michigan encountered a 30
percent decline in parolee employment . With tarnished reputations, these
parolees are stigmatized by past criminal activity that may not be indicative
of their current capabilities or work ethic. To address the employment crisis
among former inmates, Michigan legislators are prepared to install a bill
package that issues a certificate of employment for eligible parolees. The state
should not delay the bill's passage, as it would help alleviate the problems
faced by former convicts.

A profession in crisis

Almost a decade ago, a sin-
gle question completely
changed my life.
Sitting in
my catechism
classroom with
a dozen other
5th graders, we
had just finished
discussing some
Biblical story
and the instruc- JAMES
tor was taking BRENNAN
a short break to
transition to our
next subject. I raised my hand and
she called on me.
"How do we know any of this is
real?" I asked.
This question was not some type
of challenge to authority or cross-
examination- itjustseemed natural
that I should ask for confirmation
about all of these fantastic stories I
was being exposed to. Rather than
my teacher citing historical record
or some scientific study - which
was forsome reason what I expected
her to do - she simply responded
by saying, "We just have to believe.
That's what it means to have faith.
You just believe."
All of a sudden my perceptions
of God, religion and the meaning of
life were completely shattered. By
the time I reached middle school
I had completed my transition to
agnosticism, on my way to full-
blown atheism.
It allstarted with a single question,
one that challenged the status quo
and, in essence, authority.
Today, American political and
media culture seems far too afraid
of these types of questions. I'm not
talking about questions challenging
religion, but rather questions that
ask for hard verification of what
we're all told every day. Journalists
and citizens alike take to many
statements at face value, backing
down from challenging people in
power and asking them to verify
what they claim. Despite an
established history of government
and big business peddling half-

truths and flat-ou
more controversi
too often sit back
people or organiz
than what they ac
Years after aski
teacher to prove wl
se, I found myself
classroom facing a
Last June, j
Greenwald beganr
with The Guardia
meta-data collect
thanks to docum
whistleblower Edv
my public policy cl
debating the meri
intelligence state,
question asking
such a huge syste
Like seemingly a
the NSA, the con
became a matterc
against liberty.
Most of my
apprehensive abou
surveillance syster
threats of terroris
for its existence. O'
students shot dowi
the NSA's behavir
the claim thatmeta
some 50 terroristl
be a closed case;
programs like
PRISM were
saving American
lives, plain and
At no point
did anyone ask
how we knew
the government
was telling the
truth. I tried to
raise the claim
that just becaus
something does no
instead of my pe
heads in agreeme
me as if I said the P
in Kenya.
it may have bee
rial to assume the
telling its citizens 1
it's not like it hadn'

t lies about their I reminded my peers that General
al activities, we KeithAlexander had lied to Congress
and accept what under oath about the same program
ations say rather we were discussing - a claim that
tually do. didn't seem to help my argument.
ing my catechism Early this month, a US federal
hat she was telling judge and a comprehensive study
sitting in another have come to the same conclusion.
similar situation. Claims made by the Obama
ournalist Glenn administration have been untrue -
publishing articles the NSA meta-data collection hashad
an about the vast a minimal role in fighting terrorism.
ion of the NSA While I certainly feel vindicated
eents provided by by such findings, I find it deeply
ward Snowden. In troubling that journalists - and stu-
lass we spent time dents, for that matter - whose job is
ts of our massive to question what they're told, simply
with a central took claims from the government
whether or not and ran with them as verified facts.
m was necessary. While there is asmallgroup of people
l debates about committed to exposing truth rather
versation quickly than simply reporting what is said,
of safety weighed most of these writers are pushed to
the fringes for refusing to trade jour-
classmates were nalistic access for supportive stories.
t such an invasive For ayoung journalist, it may seem
m, but deferred to like being "fair" (i.e., sympathetic)
m as justification to people in power is the way to
ver and over again, make a name for yourself, refusing
n any challenge to to ask your God to prove himself
or by referencing That isn't what journalism is about.
a-data had stopped It isn't some career to use to become
plots. It seemed to rich or famous - it's a public service
to inform your
fellow citizens
and hold people
Journalists take too many accountable.
statements at face value, ' On a closing
'fnote, I'd like ask
backing down from askitig all of my fellow
people in power to verify young writers to
c . remember some-
what they clam, thing. Edward
Snowden didn't
go to The Wash-
ington Post or
e someone says The New York Times when he decid-
t make it true, but ed it was time to blow the whistle. He
ers nodding their went to a journalist at The Guardian
nt, they stared at known for asking the questions no
'resident was born one else would. Why?
Because that meant he could
mn a bit conspirato- trust him.

Last week, the Michigan legislators
introduced a three-bill package that would
allow the Department of Corrections to
issue a certificate of employability to inmates
based on their criminal history, training,
skills, behavioral record and education. The
certificates aim to vouch for parolees' good
moral character and ability to engage in the
work force. With the certificate, employers are
immune from negligent-hiringlawsuits.
Ex-criminals and society alike would benefit
from higher parolee employment. Studies have
shown that increasing parolee employment
would significantly mitigate future criminal
activity. The reincarceration rate of employed
parolees is 63 percent less than of those who
are unemployed. Parolees being reincarcerated
creates unnecessary prison maintenance
which can rack up several millions according
to Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public
Spending, a third-party organization that
vouches for prisoners' rights. CAPPS executive
director Laura Sager wrote that almost 30
percent of inmates who have been denied
parole are in the lowest risk category for
release. The inefficiency of the parole system
is detrimental to both parolees who deserve
fairer sentencing and to Michigan citizens who

pay taxes that to maintain crowded prisons.
Iowa and Ohio have already passed similar
legislation that issue employment certification
to qualified parolees. Both states require
parolees to demonstrate commitment and
desire to re-enter the work force in order
to be eligible for the certificate. Attaining
the certificate validates former inmates'
exceptional performance while underthe states'
supervision. The parolee employment license
upholds government-approved standards
that would ensure the safety of employers
and companies. Already, Ohio has shown
improvement in parolee re-incarceration rates.
Parolee employment certification would
undoubtedly reduce recidivism and prison
costs, and fill unwanted low-entry occupations.
However, lawmakers should be careful not to
discriminate among the various types of crimi-
nals. As it stands, the certificate of employment
seems to have a preference for white-collar and
non-violent offenders. Violent offenders should
also have the opportunity to earn the certifi-
cate if the rigorous and stringent evaluation
standards are enforced. Taking these consid-
erations in mind, Michigan should adopt the
policy and effectively improve the quality of life
for an oft-forgotten underclass in the state.

government was
bold-faced lies, but
t happened before.

James Brennan can be reached
at jmbthreea umich edu.

Kaan Avdan, Shank Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan,
Rima Fadlallah, Eric Ferguson, Nivedita Karki, Jordyn Kay, Jesse Klein,
Kellie Halushka, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald, Victoria Noble,
Michael Schramm, Matthew Seligman, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
Shifting the power

Does anyone remember "Spanglish"? That
somewhat serious, sappy film starring Adam
Sandler about the unorthodox relationship
a wealthy American family has with its
Mexican housekeeper? I do. I was 11 years
old, and I remember watching it in theaters
with my mom. The narrator of the film is the
housekeeper's daughter, Cristina Moreno,
who recaptures the summer she stayed with
her mother's employers in her application
essay to Princeton University. As the movie
progressed, I felt captivated by Cristina's
character. In the funny moments, I laughed
with her; inthesadder moments, Iempathized
with her. By the end of the movie, I wanted
to be just like her. At one point during the
movie, I remember turning to my mom and
telling her I wanted to go to Princeton now.
My mother replied that I could achieve this
goal so long as I worked really, really hard.
This dream of mine - to work really, really
hard - only evolved as my middle and high-
school years progressed. The image of Cris-
tina stuck with me in the back of my head. She
became a model for how I should live my life
and what my priorities should be.
Ten years later, what model of women are
we projecting to young girls? I'm afraid that
young girls today are not exposed to decent
young female figures like Cristina, or even
the more widely popular role model Elle
Woods from "Legally Blonde." Even though
Elle - our much adored childhood female
role model - valued many of the same super-
ficial things as reality stars like the Kardashi-
ans, an education ultimately transforms her.
She learns to instill in herself the values of
hard work and intelligence. In the end, Elle
ends up ditching her scum of a man, shifts her
focus to the practice of law and diverts her
attention to other hard working, passionate
people more worthy of her time and energy.
Girls today are instead exposed to young
female figures such as Kylie Jenner. Jenner
is a teenager who earned her success for
no reason other than her wealth, physical
appearance and familial connection to her
reality-star sisters. With models such as
Kylie Jenner and the Kardashians, young
girls of today are lacking inspirational female

characters with solid values.
You go to the University of Michigan, which
means you must have worked hard to get
here. You must have stayed up late junior year
of high school, tirelessly working through
sample ACT math problems. Senior year, late
nights were spent picking apart your Com-
mon App essay until it was perfect. And so
somewhere along the way, you began to value
hard work and intelligence, seeing a link
between these two qualities and success. But
by watching shows featuring female charac-
ters who lack these qualities - even when it's
just when you're folding your laundry - you
are endorsing and even promoting the kind
of female figure the Jenners or Kardashians
represent. The very reason these characters
- and yes, they are characters, reality TV
doesn't make them any more real - are get-
ting so much airtime and attention is because
we are giving it to them. Popular media only
creates these caricatures of women and per-
petuates this image of the female role model
because, by watching their shows, reading
their blogs and following them on Twitter, we
are saying it's OK to do so.
Now I know these female characters are
addicting as hell to watch. When I was in 10th
grade, I think I watched the Real Housewives
of New Jersey's Theresa and her table-flipping
scene at least a dozen times. But as alluring and
entertaining as these women can be to watch,
we owe it to ourselves, and to society, to begin
tuning them out. We certainly don't hold the
same values these female characters are rep-
resenting, and so we shouldn't promote them.
What sort of values and principles do you hope
your brother's kid or that little girl you baby-
sit acquire? Do you want her to want tobe like
Kylie Jenner, or do you want her to want to
be like the funny and charmingly nerdy mid-
dle-child Alex on Modern Family - the only
respectable figure I have seen on TV as of late.
Realize that just by switching the channel you
have the power to shift the popularized image
of the female figure from that of the Kardashi-
ans to one that young girls, like you once were,
can look up to.
Samantha Pinto is an LSA junior.

Creating a better dialogue
Democratic elections. Diverse Israel protects citizens' rights fer domestic violence. Boycotting
religions. A social scene for people regardless of religion - a hallmark Israel for human rights violations
of different sexual orientations. of democracy. Israeli society also is ignorant and disregards Israeli
These characteristics are absent encourages freedom of expres- freedoms and regional injustices.
in many Middle Eastern coun- sion. Its LGBTQ community enjoys A better approach is addressing
tries, but Israel has them all. By openness: the Pew Research Center sovereignty for two peoples. Condi-
upholding freedom of religion and reported that 40 percent of Israelis tions in the West Bank and Gaza are
expression for its citizens, Israel is said society should accept homosex- nuanced and complex, complicated
a stronghold of values that is unpar- uals, compared with 5 percent of cit- by friction among leaders, lack of
alleled in the Middle East. That is izens in neighboringArab countries, representation, unrest in the wider
not to say that the country is with- including the Palestinian territo- Arab world and historical issues of
out flaws. There are many problems ries. The annual pride parade in Tel ownership. Palestinians face many
embedded within the Israeli-Pal- Aviv is one of 12 that happen across challenges: restriction of movement,
estinian conflict. However, these the country, and national organiza- poverty, Israeli military control of
need to be addressed in regards to tions such as Agudah offer support. borders and allotment of resources
sovereignty - a Palestinian state Although he is critical of Israeli such as electricity and water. How-
alongside a Jewish-Israeli one - policy, author Ari Shavit describes ever, it's unacceptable to equate
without distorting the reality in the clubs and nightlife of Tel Aviv, Israeli occupation with fundamen-
Israel and the wider region. asserting, "... anyone who thinks the talist, theocratic oppression against
Within Israeli society, several new Israel is a fundamentalist the- a marginalized minority. Israel is a
freedoms are apparent. Israel's ocracy doesn't know what the hell liberal democracy, forced to struggle
population - which is 19 percent he is talking about." amid a turbulent region and existen-
Muslim and 2 percent Christian - is As students, we also connect to tial threat. Palestinianleadership has
guaranteed religious freedom in the Israel through technology and inno- also complicated the issue, having
Basic Law on Human Dignity and vation. At the University, we benefit rejected a two-state solution in 1947,
Liberty. Pastor John Hagee explains from the UM-Israel Partnership for 2000, 2001 and 2008. After Israel's
that Christians in the Middle East Research, which recently offered withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Pal-
face horrific persecution, "save for a cardiovascular research synipo- estinians elected Hamas, which has
Israel," where they practice free- sium with collaboration from the been identified by multiple countries
ly. Several organizations monitor Technion-Israel Institute of Tech- as a terrorist group. The conflict is
Christian oppression in the Middle nology and the Weizmann Institute the responsibility of both peoples,
East. Open Doors International of Science. Through Ben-Gurion but it is often portrayed inaccurately
reported severe to extreme persecu- University, UM students pursue as aggressor versus victim.
tion in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, renewable-energy projects in solar Although there is no clear solu-
Iraq and Iran. The International technology, thermoelectric materi- tion, dialogue and conversation
Institute for Religious Freedom als and advanced vehicle fuel. are stepping stones to coexistence.
explains that though Christians These partnerships demon- Blanket movements to boycott and
make up 10 percent of the Syrian strate academic cooperation and divest nullify dialogue by misrep-
population, they face kidnappings free exchange of ideas. As Uni- resenting the conflict and Israel's
and terrorist attacks. Israel, in con- versity President Mary Sue Cole- position within it. Israel is a real
trast, is a haven for religious minori- man explained, academic boycotts country, with very real problems.
ties amid widespread extremism. "violate the principles of academic Occupation and extremism must be
In addition, many Middle Eastern freedom and freedom of speech." overcome, but boycotts and exclu-
governments perpetuate religious Any boycott of Israel based on free- sion ignore that Israeli freedom
persecution. A report by the US dom and equality misrepresents and democracy are unrivaled in
State Department explained that in the reality of Israeli democracy and the Middle East. As an Israel sup-
Gaza, Hamas has arrested Muslims applies a double standard to Israel porter, I am proud of all Israel has
who do not abide by strict Islamic over every other Middle Eastern accomplished while acknowledging
law. In Israel, however, religion country. In Syria, the death toll due that there is much more to address.
is separate from government. to civil war has surpassed 100,000. Democratic elections. Religious
Although there are religious In Turkey, the government dis- freedom. Gay rights. My hope is
political parties, religious law does placed 44.5 million Kurdish people that, with a sensitive approach
not decide national laws, and only 9 in the 1990s, a trend of oppression and the right conversation, we can
percent of Israel's Jews identify as and murder that continues today. someday add two states for two
Ultra-Orthodox. Religious freedom Pakistan is the third most danger- peoples to that list.

also extends to small communities,
such as Baha'i, who are oppressed
in neighboring countries.

ous country for women - more than
1,000 women are murdered every
year and more than 90 percent suf-

Emily Camras isan LSA and
School of Music freshman.

Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor and viewpoints.
Letters should be fewer than 300 words while viewpoints should be
550-850 words. Send the writer's full name and University affiliation to


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