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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Monday Morning Quarterbacking

    Investing in incarceration

    A report from the Pew Center on the States made waves this weekend for its startling finding that one in 100 American adults are in prison, an incarceration rate higher than anywhere else in the world. Over 2.3 million Americans are currently behind bars – a greater percentage of the population than are imprisoned in countries like Russia, Cuba and even China, despite its (more) totalitarian government and far bigger population. Arizona is a prominent part of the nationwide incarceration trend, with the fastest-growing prison population in the western United States Arizona is a big spender on prisons: 8.5 percent of the state budget goes toward paying for punishment, the seventh-highest figure in the nation. It also means we have less money to spend on other priorities, like higher education. Although Arizona was not one of five states that spent more on prisons than on higher ed, our prison budget is still formidable, equal to about 77 percent of state expenditures on Arizona’s universities. Arizona should take care to ensure that that percentage doesn’t rise any further.

    Virtual fence a virtual failure

    Investigators from the U.S. Government Accountability Office admitted Thursday that the Bush administration’s plan to build a high-tech “”virtual”” fence along the U.S.-

    Mexico border south of Tucson “”did not fully meet user needs”” and may be delayed for years or scaled back. That’s a big blow to the project, which relied on a series of all-seeing electronic towers strung along a 28-mile stretch of desert near Yuma that was once hailed by the president as “”the most technologically advanced border security initiative in American history.”” The border security scheme may have been technologically advanced, but it was still boneheaded. Auditors found that the project, spearheaded by the Boeing Co., relied on ill-suited commercial software, had problems with rain and wind and suffered from too much data overwhelming the sensors. Of course, those are minor points – the idea that a series of electronic eyes could secure a notoriously porous border was a wacky one in the first place. The only way to truly secure the border is to adopt sensible, humane immigration policy – no matter how many cameras the Boeing Co. builds.

    Text alerts fall short for school safety

    With constant attention on school shootings at Northern Illinois University last month and Virginia Tech last year, most accept strengthening security on college campuses as a widespread and widely shared concern. According to The Associated Press, however, many students simply aren’t that concerned about campus emergencies. Friday, they reported that although hundreds of colleges – the UA included – have set up emergency text-message alert systems, getting students signed up for them is an uphill battle. The two largest providers of emergency alerts nationwide, Omnilert and Blackboard Connect, report average enrollment rates of only 39 and 28 percent, respectively. The UA’s own campus alert system, UA Alert, has enrolled about a quarter of the campus population, in line with other alert systems across the country. Although “”campus safety experts”” contacted by the AP suggested that “”feelings of invincibility and reluctance to give out personal information”” prevented students from signing up for the systems, we think there’s a simpler explanation: Students are lazy, and they don’t buy into the culture of fear that spreads with every school shooting. Either way, its a reminder that there’s no single solution to campus safety – text-message alerts need to be part of a bigger plan to keep students safe in the event of an emergency.

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