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July 20, 2009 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2009-07-20

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41

Monday, July 20, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@unich.edu

ERIKA MAYER I
Prison break

JAMIE BLOCK
EDITOR IN CHIEF

ROBERT SOAVE
MANAGING FDITOR

RACHEL VAN GILDER
FDITORIAI PAGF FDITOR

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.
Obama goes back to college
Congress should support plan to improve community colleges
Community colleges are colleges, too. While it may be easy to
forget that fact at a large research university, President Barack
Obama recently announced a plan that recognizes the impor-
tance of community colleges. He's proposing a 10-year, $12-billion invest-
ment in community colleges to improve their ability to educate America's
workforce. The plan, called the American Graduation Initiative, sends a
message from the Obama administration that it hasn't forgotten about
those for whom a bachelor's degree at a four-year university isn't a real-
istic possibility. It's Congress's job to reinforce Obama's admirable com-
mitment to community colleges by passing the initiative.

At least 62 convicted but acci-
dentally released sex offenders
walked free on Michigan streets
for days between May 22 and 24.
Due to misclassifications dur-
ing their release evaluations, the
prisoners were released without
enrollment in a parole program.
Some of the prisoners may have
been ready for release, but others
may have been recommended for
further observation before their
release. Though it's being por-
trayed as an innocent mistake, the
accidental release of these prison-
ers illustrates the danger of Gov.
Jennifer Granholm's proposed
early release program.
To cut down inmate popula-
tion, Granholm initiated a plan
to release prisoners once their
minimum sentence had been
completed. While saving money is
a laudable goal, if the actual result
is the repeated bungling of pris-
oner releases, this plan becomes
a serious danger to the state's
residents. When the Department
of Corrections's incompetence
allows a security breach like this,
the safety of innocent, unknowing
residents is at stake.
The releases in question were
the result of two psychologists
misclassifying thesesexual pred-
ators in a fourth category, instead
of one of the three expected
categories - parole, outpatient
or inpatient. And while the sex
offenders were returned to prison
within a few days after their acci-
dental release, it was clear that
in the days between the events,
no one in the Department of Cor-
rections knew what was going on.
When asked, officials gave vary-
ing numbers for how many pris-
oners had been released.
Thesesexual predators were
free for days. Though they were
wearing electronic tethers that
were being monitored, they were
not enrolled in any sort of parole
program. And as far as I know, a
tether that alerts officials when a
child molester approaches a child
hasn't been invented yet.
The released sex offenders
weren't people convicted of some
controversial statutory rape charg-
es. They ranged from child molest-
ers to rapists. And they walked
freely down the streets for days.
According to the Department
of Corrections, these rapists and
molesters didn't commit any addi-
tional crimes while released. But
it's unclear on what grounds this
conclusion was reached. Less than
I THUMBS UP
Finally getting your driver's
license at the age of 27 -- 1
years after most Americans.

40 percent of all rapes were report-
ed in 2003, according to the U.S.
Department of Justice, and this
number is even lower for attempt-
ed rapes. Less than 20 percent of
molested adolescents tell an adult,
accordingtothe 1995 National Sur-
vey of Adolescents. If any of these
scumbags tried to force themselves
on someone else, chances are good
the assault remains unreported.
Victims of sexual assault are
afraid of their attackers. And those
brave enough to fight to have their
attackers put in prison deserve the
satisfaction of some sense of safety.
There's even a website that allows
victims in Michigan to track the
status of their assailant. The dis-
tress that the victims of the 62
released predators must have felt is
unimaginable. Knowing there was
nothing but an electronic tether
between them and their worst
nightmare could have had horrible
psychological effects onthem. And
that's not taking into account the
possibility of new victims.
tn 1995, astudyfrom theNation-
al Survey of Adolescents found
that 13 percentofgirls and 3.4 per-
cent of boys had been molested.
And about 17.6 percent of women
have beensexuallyassaulted, with
the percentage hovering between
20 and 25 for college co-eds,
according to a 2006 Department
of Justice survey. These numbers
are staggering. The last thing
this country needs is to see those
numbers rise. And if "innocent
mistakes" like this prison release
start happening frequently, that is
easily what could happen.
Surprisingly, Republicans in
the state House of Representa-
tives seem to be the only ones
making noise over this incident.
They are calling for the elimina-
tion of the program. But surely
there should be more outrage
over the release of at least 62
depraved men. If the released
prisoners had been murderers,
wouldn't there be more anger?
People place their trust in
the Department of Corrections
to keep perverts behind bars.
Thanks to the carelessness of
two psychiatrists and the disor-
ganization of the Michigan pris-
on system, the department has
failed. Until failures like this one
are eliminated, Granholm's early
release program has to be tabled.
It's not worth the risk.
Erika Mayer is the summer
assistant editorial page editor.
* THUMBS DOWN
Starting the accident that
melted and collapsed the 9
Mile Road bridge over 1-75.

Obama announced the initia-
tive on Tuesday at Macomb Com-
munity College in the nearby
Detroit suburb of Warren, a blue-
collar town hit hard by the recent
economic meltdown. Obama
proposed a number of methods
that would improve community
colleges nationwide by helping
them provide online courses and
modernize facilities. The AGI
pledges to make earning an asso-
ciate's degree easier. It encourag-
es merit-based scholarships and
classes that work around full-
time schedules. Obama's goal is
an additional 5 million associate
degrees by 2020. The AGI will
be funded by an elimination of
subsidies the federal government
pays to banks that run student
loan programs, which Obama
proposed in April.
Now it's Congress's turn to fol-
low Obama's initiative and make
it happen - because Obama
was right when he said that jobs
requiring a college degree would

grow faster than jobs that don't.
This is especially true for Michi-
gan. As the state loses its manu-
facturing base, its future will
depend on job growth in fields
that require college degrees.
But getting a college degree to
enter a new profession isn't easy
for workers who've already been
in the manufacturing workforce
for years and can't afford to go
to school full time. And it isn't
easy for students whose fami-
lies have been hit hard by the
economic downturn and can't
afford a four-year degree. With
college tuition rising across the
country, the need for quality
community colleges is greater
than ever. Community colleges
could offer affordable school-
ing for people who need it - and
Obama's AGI could drastical-
ly improve the quality of this
affordable education.
Community colleges provide
essential educational oppor-
tunities and ensure that our

workforce can change with the
demand for jobs. And improving
the accessibility of community
colleges will help this happen.
Giving tools for community col-
leges to design programs around
work schedules and provide
online courses will help students
already in the workforce. The
option to train for a job in a high-
growth field while maintaining
a full-time job will entice more
to take advantage of this oppor-
tunity. And since the federal
government is paying for these
improvements, community col-
leges will be able to keep their
tuition low - something that all
universities need to do better.
Community colleges provide
an education for people who
can't afford a four-year college
education. Obama's new plan to
bolster such important institu-
tions could help bring the nation
out of this economic slump, and
Congress should ensure this
becomes reality.

Editorial Board Members:
Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer,
Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Vivian Wang, Patrick Zabawa

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