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State failing to follow recipe for Work Ethic Camp
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.