State failing to follow recipe for Work Ethic Camp

Friday, June 21, 2013

Comments by a judge in Lincoln remind us of the first time an elderly relative tried Tang.

"Try this, grandpa," was the pitch. "It's what the astronauts drink."

The directions are lost to time, but probably called for something like four heaping teaspoons to a glass of water.

After only one, Gramps snatches the glass away. "That's enough," he sneers, eyeing the swirling orange particles with skepticism.

Taking a sip, he makes a face: "This is awful!"

Of course it is, the youngster shrugs resignedly, you've spoiled it by not following the recipe.

The Lincoln Journal Star reported that Judge Steve Burns refused to send a newly convicted felon Brett Dovell, 24, to the Work Ethic Camp because all he would learn there is "how to be a ciminal."

Dovell, who pleaded guilty to attempted robbery, his first felony conviction, had hoped the judge would give him probation and rehabilitation services at the McCook facility.

Burns said people he's sent to the camp end up violating probation after having problems with inmates housed there instead of in a state prison.

Burns has a point. The Work Ethic Camp was started with the best intentions and has had its share of success, but the state has failed to follow the recipe.

Instead of its original mix of programs designed to instill self-discipline, self-respect and a "work ethic," the facility has seen its role slowly erode into just another prison, becoming an overcrowded male-only facility with fewer work crews able to venture out into the community to support worthwhile efforts and build self-worth and self-confidence.

But by not sending him to the Work Ethic Camp, Burns is increasing the chance that Dovell will learn how to be a criminal.

Nebraska's prison system is filled with too many nonviolent offenders. A way needs to be found to keep them out of prison and to give recipes like the McCook Work Ethic Camp program a chance to work.

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  • yes of course lets bend over backwards for criminals and cut benifits to senior citizens who killed for this country who worked for this country.lets cut their benifits and give them to criminals and ILLEGALS

    -- Posted by palisadist1 on Mon, Jul 8, 2013, at 7:12 AM
  • Check the record and see how many Burns has sent to the work camp. I am sure going to the state prison will place folks in an environment where they are exposed to a much tougher prison environment with tougher inmates. The work camp is a better bet to not reoffend once they are out.

    -- Posted by dennis on Mon, Jul 8, 2013, at 10:09 AM
  • "While Americans represent about 5 percent of the world's population, nearly one-quarter of the entire world's inmates have been incarcerated in the United States in recent years.Imprisonment of America's 2.3 million prisoners, costing $24,000 per inmate per year, and $5.1 billion in new prison construction, consumes $60.3 billion in budget expenditures" - This is from Wikipedia. We no doubt use prisons in a different way than other countries. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world. My guess is that the USA is less crime tolerant than other countries. For example, in the article the young apparently unsuccessful thief - a first time felon - is treated like a hardened criminal. In most countries that would not be the perspective. Also , in the USA, criminal records never go away. Not only are we harsher toward others - we are remarkably unforgiving. There is no such thing as starting over wjth a clean slate. The recidivism rate in the USA is close to 70%. In a place like Norway it's about 20%.

    -- Posted by bob s on Mon, Jul 8, 2013, at 3:28 PM
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