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June 06, 2013 - Image 5

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2013-06-06
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, June 6, 2013 1
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Ode to Detroit

Problematic prisons

MARLENE LACASSE/Daily
Mayor John Hieftje and the council discussed the expansion of the Ann Arbor Transit Authority's services to include routes to
Ypsilanti at the City Council meeting Monday.
City CouncSl discusses
expanding ATAServices

Routes to Ypsilanti,
other Ann Arbor-
areas promoted
By AMRUTHA SIVAKUMAR
Daily StaffReporter
Monday night, the Ann Arbor
City Council was asked to review
selected changes to the Ann Arbor
Transport Authority's articles of
incorporation that would expand
its services to Ypsilanti.
In an Ypsilanti City Council
meeting in late April, council
members formally agreed to allow
AATA to serve Ypsilanti. As the
city of Ypsilanti already levied its
maximum property tax allowed
on residents, services would allow
the city to acquire additional funds
for transportation through an
alternate tax.
Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje
said he advocated the expansion,
as there's a large population of
Ann Arbor residents and Eastern
Michigan University students
who utilized Routes 5 and 6,
which service Ypsilanti, noting
that the service was "full both
ways."
The resolution incorporated
a clause to add two additional
positions to the existing seven-
person AATA board, one of
which would be held by a person

nominated by the Ypsilanti
City Council and the other a
representative of Ann Arbor.
Councilmember Stephen
Kunselman (D- Ward 3) said
the proposed amendment to the
articles of incorporation to add
additional seats was "a very small
step" compared to the greater
logistical obstacles that needed
to be overcome. Nevertheless, he
co-sponsored the item, as he said
he believed it was important for
the proposal to move forward.
"I'm not sure that it is best
that we do this before the AATA
reviews it," he added, as the
AATA board will likely propose
additional recommendations that
would warrant amendments to the
resolution.
While the item only accounted
for Ypsilanti's association with
AATA, it remains unclear whether
other area townships will want to
join the system.
"I have been a staunch
proponent of getting Ypsilanti or
the other communities (to join)
that use the AATA existing system
quite extensively," Kunselman
said. "These are the communities
that bring in the vast majority
of ridership that then brings in
federal dollars."
Council members also
discussed possible name changes
that would accompany an AATA
expansion. The amended articles

of incorporation proposed that
the corporation be renamed
to Ann Arbor Area Transport
Authority and be referred to as
The Authority.
Councilmember Sally Peterson
(D- Ward 2) said calling the public
corporation AAATA when the
only Ann Arbor area included was
Ypsilanti was misleading.
"Changing the name will
certainly come around by the
public when this makes its way,"
Kunselman said.
The council unanimously
approved the resolution by a vote
of 10-0 to add Ypsilanti to the
AATA. However, the resolution
did not enforce or ensure a
funding mechanism for the
expansion.
Jerry Lax, legal counsel for
AATA, said he supported the
resolution on the grounds that
an additional millage could
be imposed on Ann Arbor and
Ypsilanti residents to fund
AATA operations - subject to
the approval of voters during the
Nov. 6 general election.
"This is a first step, it doesn't
by itself create new funding,"
he said. "But it does give
Ypsilanti a more active role in
governance and does create a
mechanism where the voters in
both jurisdictions can approve
of (additional funding through
taxes)."

ast week, former Michigan
Supreme Court Justice Diane
Hathaway was sentenced to
one year in prison
for bank fraud.
In an attempt to
qualify on a short
sale, Hathaway x
concealed her
assets with family
members; howev-
er, she was caught DEREK
in the process of WOLFE
doing so.
According to
our written law
and to most people, Hathaway's
punishment is appropriate. She
abused her power as a justice for her
own benefit and deserves to suffer for
a year - even if it's at Camp Cupcake,
the site where TV personality Martha
Stewart served her prison stint.
However, with jail overcrowding
becoming an ever-present issue, this
approach and obsession for "sticking
it to the man" is shortsighted.
First and foremost, sentence
lengths seem incredibly arbitrary to
me. Why does Hathaway need to be
incarcerated for one year to repent for
her crime? Why not six months or two
years? I have a feeling that she already
feels guilty just by going through the
trial process.
Perhaps the greatest goal of
criminal justice should be that of
prevention. About half of prisoners
incarcerated have a mental health
problem. If these people had better
mental health resources, then it's
possible that many of these crimes
may have never happened in the
first place.
But in cases where imprisonment is
required, our prison system needs to
become a more efficient experience.
In order to do that, our philosophy
of the prison system's purpose must
change. Yes, criminals like murderers
and rapists should be jailed for greater
lengths of time seeing that they are
threats to society. But shouldn't the
overall purpose of incarceration be
about rehabilitation? Prisons should
be doing a better job of helping people
function within society upon their
release. Right now, this isn't the
case. Within three years of release,
67 percent of former inmates are
arrested and reenter the prison
world. If the system adjusted its
approach by providing opportunities
for higher education - perhaps by
taking advantage of trade school or
websites like Coursera - that figure
could certainly decrease.
That being said, a new approach
must be taken with fiscal

responsibility. Because of the amount
taxpayers are spending to incarcerate
criminals, it's become a financially
irresponsible venture. In most states,
it costs over $30,000 each year to
house one inmate. Think about it.
That's enough to send a hopeful
student to the University for a year
on scholarship. There are plenty
of other ways that money could be
spent to improve how our society
functions, including - but not limited
to - schools, infrastructure, public
transportation and health programs.
We also must alter what types of
offenses should require incarceration.
Couldn't house arrest be an
appropriate punishment for crimes
like Hathaway's? It drove Lucille
and George Bluth, Sr. from "Arrested
Development" crazy, so why couldn't
it work for her? While I make that
comment in jest, she definitely isn't a
physical threat to society, so let her be
locked up in her own home.
The era of mass
incarceration
must end.
Also, many drug offenses thatcarry
mandatory jail time could be changed
to carry mandatory community
service that actually benefits the
community they harmed. And not
only that, but it would also cost
significantly less. There are countless
options of punishments that would
still make life difficult for offenders
that wouldn't run up the bill and
would be more effective in creating
fever repeat offenders.
The biggest barrier to change is
the fact that our prison system has
become increasingly privatized.
This has incentivized keeping more
criminals locked up for longer, suck-
ing away funds that again could be
used for a better purpose. The U.S.
imprisons more people than any other
country in the world because of this
system, so it's obvious that new regu-
lations are needed in order to stop
this from spiraling out of control.
While I admit what I've laid out is
not concrete by any means, the era
of mass incarceration must end. We
can't continue to be trapped by the
past and romanticize the days ofAlca-
traz - even if "Lockup" does make for
interesting TV.
-Derek Wolfe can be reached
at dewolfe@umich.edu.

y very first memories for any excuse to remain in a
of the city involve city that seemed to be a happy,
summer days in blissful bubble. I took English
strollers, 223 and spent spring semester
staring at the reading and writing poetry with
sun glancing a group of students who had
off of the their own reasons for staying at
river from school. One day, we read "Thirty
the shores Years Rising," a poem by Olena
of Belle Isle. Kalytiak Davis about returning
I was lucky to her native city of Detroit after
enough to PAIGE leaving to live her life elsewhere.
live in a tall PFLEGER I was struck by the beauty and
brick house rawness of her words as my
nestled teacher read them aloud; about
between how her brother had arrived at
trees that were almost as old as the "heavy black X of destination
the small neighborhood itself. on the inside of his forehead,"
Indian Village, one of the city's and how she had escaped the city
many historic gems, was home and given it up for so many others
to many firsts: I learned to walk that never felt like home. And
holding on to my old bullmastiff finally, how Detroit had become a
for support, played in leaf piles part ofher, just by being the place
in the shade with small yellow that she grew up in.
plastic tools and followed my "It's in my bones. My sternum
older sister around in hopes runs like Woodward Avenue,
that maybe one day I could be it's pinnated, parked on, full
just like her. Throughout the of dirt, holding women in wigs
entirety of what I consider to be a and cigarettes, bars
beautiful childhood, I remained lit from the outside in, it's
ignorant to the deterioration overflowing
that surrounded my few square with pooltables and ashtrays.
blocks of bliss. It wasn't until My ribs
later, after I had been plucked are holding up factories and
from the heart of the city, placed breweries, two-bedroom
into public school in a metro houses and multi-storied lives,
Detroit suburb and my childhood this strip,
had become a distant memory this city, these sidestreets,
that I began to recognize the abony feather."
stigma that surrounded the city I So I started asking around
held so dear - a stigma that told Ann Arbor to see what other
me that Detroit isn't perfect. A people thought of Detroit, and
stigma that told me Detroit was discovered something extremely
scary, dangerous, a giant black strange - the great majority of
sinkhole that was a blemish to people, whether they were from
our state and our reputation and the East Coast or from another
is talked negatively of or - better metro Detroit suburb, hadn'tever
yet - not talked of at all. visited. A reputation permeated
After finishing up freshman by Eminem's "8 Mile" and news
year, I clung to Ann Arbor like stories of murders and robberies,
a life preserver and opted to of bodies rolling up on the shore
take spring classes, looking of the Detroit River or being

found in abandoned buildings,
was all that had reached most
students at the University. Any
word of beautiful summer days
on Belle Isle, of family-owned
coffee shops and bakeries, of
good food and good people, had
somehow been lost along the
45-minute drive down I-94.
I didn't realize
the stigma
until later.
It certainly isn't my place to
tell you how to feel about Detroit,
and I would never expect you to
take my word for it. But before
you embrace the city's bad rep,
hop in your car and spend a day
exploring Detroit. Learn about
Detroit's bootlegging role in
prohibition, eat a gyro in Greek-
town, wander around botanical
gardens, grab a cup of coffee at
a hole in the wall caf6, eat a pas-
try from Avalon, sunbathe on the
shore of the river, stop and listen
to bucket drummers on a street
corner, hear the roar of Com-
erica Park, visit the Heidelberg,
see the art spray-painted on the
walls or inside the Detroit Insti-
tute of Arts, buy fresh produce at
Eastern Market, ride the People
Mover until you've memorized
the city's skyline, take a picture
with the Spirit and discover the
beauty in urban decay. Give the
city a chance and I know it will
surprise you, because for me,
home is where the heart is, and
my heart is and always has been
in Detroit.
-Paige Pfleger can be reached
at pspflegoqumich.edu

u -E E TLE
If those kits had not been forgotten on
the shelf, these women could still be
OK"
-Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, referring to 11,300 rape kits found in a storage facility
in 2009. Worthy, Governor Rick Snyder and State Attorney General Bil Schuette are seeking $4
million from the state legislature in order to test the forgotten kits.

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