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May 24, 1999 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1999-05-24

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 24, 1999
Edited and managed by EmitY ACHENBAUM NICK WOOMER
students at the Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
University of Michigan min
3 Unless otherwise noted, urnsigned editorials reflect the op>inion of the
420 Maynard Street aorit iofithe iailis editorial board lll other articlelettersand
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 cartoonu do not necessariv reflect the opinion of The Michigan Dai.

E veryone at the University can breathe a
little easier now that Gov. John Engler's
plan to revamp the way state colleges and
universities are funded has been killed by a
Senate panel in Lansing. Engler's plan
would have been disastrous for large
research institutions like the University and
Michigan State University. The Senate's
reasonable answer to Engler's plan, a far
less rigid proposal by Sen. John Schwarz
(R-Battle Creek), is a better approach to the
funding of higher education and deserves to
be looked at carefully.
The now-dead funding proposal, which
zipped through the state House of
Representatives earlier this year, called for
dividing each of the state's 15 public col-
leges and universities into four groups.
Colleges and universities within each group
would have received the same amount of
money for each in-state student enrolled.
The plan would have resulted in an insignif-
icant 3 percent increase in state funding for
the University, Wayne State University and

Quadi paive differences
Engler funding plan was recipe for disaster

Eastern Michigan University. MSU,
Engler's alma mater, would have received a
4.6 percent increase.
The lack of appreciation for the qualita-
tive differences between each of the state's
colleges and universities demonstrated by
Engler and many in the legislature is unset-
tling. No one in the university community
should forget such a gross over-simplifica-
tion of matters when the lawmakers respon-
sible for the plan come up for reelection.
The notion that the issue of funding for
higher education in Michigan can be settled
by simply placing each institution into one
of four tiers is absurd. Every school in the
state's system of public colleges and univer-
sities plays a unique role in the larger
scheme of higher education and therefore

has different funding needs.
In general, the University, with its large
number of graduate students and research
facilities, requires more state funds in order
to accomplish its educational goals.
Specifically, with the cost of constructing
the new Life Sciences Institute looming in
the near future, the University will need to
have access to more state funds if it is to
keep tuition from raising yet again.
Last year Lansing only raised the
University's funds by 3 percent but tuition
shot up by 4.5 percent. Lawmakers pressur-
ing the University to use the rate of inflation
as a benchmark for setting tuition can not
justify allowing state support for higher
education to slide. It ought to be obvious to
Engler and certain legislators that cutting-

edge research does not move ahead in har-
mony with Michigan families' ability to pay
for higher education.
Engler's plan to appropriate money o
groups of public colleges and universitW
will hurt Michigan's smaller institutions as
well. Like their larger counterparts, schools
like Ferris State University and Lake
Superior State University have their own
specific needs that must be addressed indi-
vidually by lawmakers in Lansing.
Engler and certain members of the
House must take note of the flaws inherent
in grouping Michigan's public colleges and
universities as they hammer out a compro-
mise between the Engler plan an
Schwarz's proposal. If lawmakers want W
make higher education more affordable to
Michigan residents and simultaneously
maintain the status of some of the state's
colleges and universities as first class
research institutions, they must be willing
to i'dividually address each institution's
specific needs.

Dead wrong
Illinois case shows flaws with death penalty

Sex offender list fraught with problems

L ast week, after eight years of sitting
on death row, Ronald James was
exonerated by the state of Illinois.
Originally convicted for rape and mur-
der, DNA tests proved that Jones could
not have committed the crime. The
national attention given to Jones' release
brings to the forefront the larger question
of the state of capital punishment in the
United States - and the facts over-
whelmingly show that the death penalty
is an inappropriate method for punishing
criminals.
The problem with the death penalty
begins with its discriminatory nature.
Without standard national rules dictating
when the death penalty should be sought,
African Americans are disproportionate-
ly sentenced to death. Today, 36 percent
of the inmates on death row are black,
while African Americans constitute only
12 percent of the nation's population.
Similar discrimination is evident when
examining the race of the victim in capi-
tal punishment cases. 82 percent of death
penalty cases in the United States
involved white victims.
Further strengthening the case against
the death penalty is the number of inno-
cent people on death row. When he was
released, Ronald Jones became one of 79
men and women released from death row
since the inception of the modern death
penalty in 1973. Those numbers equate
to one innocent for every seven people
executed, a proportion that cannot be tol-
erated.
While some may argue that these
drawbacks are necessary evils to main-
tain capital punishment, the statistics
show that the death penalty is not effec-
tive in deterring crime. When states with
the death penalty are compared to states

without the death penalty, the non death
penalty states often have lower murder
rates. According to the Death Penalty
Information Center, in 1997, the average
murder rate per 100,000 people in death
penalty states was 6.6 people, while in
non-death nenalty states the average wasj
only 3.5. While the drawbacks to capital
punishment should not be tolerated
under any circumstances, they become
even more ridiculous as capital punish-
ment continually proves to be ineffec-
tive.
If capital punishment must continue,
at least for the time being, improvements
must be made to combat discrimination
and the number of innocent people on
death row. Lawmakers can start by guar-
anteeing better legal representation for
defendants in capital cases. Currently,
most defendants in capital cases, too
poor to hire their own lawyers, are given
court-appointed lawyers. These lawyers
are often underpaid and inexperienced.
In fact, some states limit the compensa-
tion a court-appointed attorney can
receive in a death-penalty case to under
$2,000. This obviously results in sub-
standard legal representation and
increased false convictions. Lawmakers
should also institute mandatory DNA
tests when applicable. Something as sim-
ple as this could have spared Ronald
Jones eight years on death row and most
likely many other inmates their lives.
But even with these improvements,
capital punishment should not continue.
Disregarding the looming moral issues,
the fact remains that capital punishment
is discriminatory and ineffective. Rather
than spend their time wasting often inno-
cent lives, lawmakers should look for
alternative methods to punish criminals.

[ ather than fulfilling their duty to
Michigan residents by treating sex
offenders, the Michigan state police have
instead published the state's list of sex
offenders on the Internet. The stated rea-
son behind the list is to aid parents in
identifying sex offenders who may be
living in their neighborhood.
While committing sex offenses
should be looked upon seriously, sex
offenders are nevertheless entitled to live
out their lives as normal citizens after
having completed their sentence, instead
of being subject to public humiliation as
a result of this published list. Sex offend-
ers should be given the opportunity to
truly rehabilitate during their sentence to
alleviate any public fear that the offend-
ers will repeat their offense once they
return back to society. The state police
have no need to publish such as list on
the Internet where it can be accessed by
people with all sorts of intentions.
Many problems are currently associ-
ated with publishing this list on the web
site. The list of sex offenders is not com-
pletely accurate. Mistakes are found in as
much as 25 percent of the registry.
Instead of trying to remedy the problem
or take the list offline, the state requests
at the bottom of the list that citizens
"contact your local police agency or
sheriff's department... to report the dis-
crepancy" Furthermore, only the per-
sonal descriptions of the sex offenders
are published along with the offense that
they committed. But the vast majority of
crimes attributed to those listed are con-
victions of criminal sexual conduct with
no additional information such as the
date of the offense. Many individuals
listed were born in the '30s, '40s or '50s
making it quite possible that the offense

these individuals committed occurred
decades ago.
Sex offenders are put on this list with-
out exception. Minor offenders, such as
those convicted of crimes like indecent
exposure under certain circumstances,
could have their names put on the 1i0
Even sex offenders should not have to
face their whole life living in the shad-
ows of a crime for which they have
served out their punishment or that they
committed a long while back.
Sen. David Jaye (R-Macomb), main-
tains his own site which has a disclaimer
reading: "This list represents our best
effort to accurately duplicate the infor-
mation provided. We are not responsi
for inaccuracies." Such an irresponsible
action by a public servant should be con-
demned by voters.
Instead of publishing a list of sex
offenders, the state police should focus
on rehabilitating them while they are
serving their time. The state should pass
legislation to ensure that sex offenders
receive comprehensive psychological
treatment while they are serving time in
prison so that when they return to soci-
ety, they are rehabilitated.
The state police should no longer
resort to such counterproductive tactics
as publishing the names of sex offenders
on the Internet. On a practical level, the
inaccuracies in such a list will inevitably
lead to harassment of innocent people.
From a moral standpoint, society's fun-
demental concept ofjustice demands that
those who have paid their debts to soci-
ety for their crimes should not be pl*
ished any further. In order to solve the
problem, the state should focus their
efforts on the psychological roots of sex
crimes

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