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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 7, 1975)
Drinkers need help, not jail
The last tiling an alcoholic needs is a night in
jail. Piling the stigma of incarceration on top of
his already acute family, social and working
problems is more likely to drive hime to drink
than to cure him.
Therein lies the problem. Our criminal justice
system has always found it easier to punish
someone who does wrong than to help someone
do right. And tossing drunks in a drunk tank
overnight is more punishment than help.
Punishment is something an alcoholic is already
getting enough of.
LB237, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Wally
Barnett, would decriminalize public
intoxication and treat alcoholism as the disease
it is rather than the crime some wish it to be.
The bill proposes that people picked up for
public drunkenness be taken to a detoxification
center rather than to jail. At the centers the
person would be treated, fed and given a place to
sleep. A stay of more than 72 hours would be
While details for setting up the centers will be
left until after the bill is passed, the program
would be under the direction of the director of
the division on alcoholism of the Department of
Public Institutions. The centers would be set up
within the state's six mental health regions.
The beauty of the idea lies in the increased
concern it would direct to the welfare of
alcoholics. Under present law, persons found
drunk in public go to jail until they sober up or
are released to an attorney or their own
A court appearance the next day usually
brings a fine or the option of participating in a
court-approved program such as counseling or
Alcoholics Anonymous. If the person proves to.
the court that he participated in the program, the
case is usually dismissed.
Essentially Barnett's bill takes away the
option. The alcoholic doesn't get to choose
between the rehabilitation program and a stiff
sentence. If he's caught drunk publicly, he's
automatically in the program.
The bill should be passed. In its final form,
some distinction should be made between the
alcoholic and the first offender. One-time drunks
wouldn't appreciate being treated like alcoholics.
Alcoholism has been treated as a crime long
enough. It is time we realized the real crime lies in
locking up alcoholics without trying to help
; r -
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I if f
"A remarkable new solution has come to my attention-deeper
Women's Pages defended as 'alternative press '
Editor's note: Vicki Bagrowski is a senior majoring in
Amy Struthers devoted her editorial Friday to a
critique of Women's Pages, put out by the University
Women's Action Group (UWAG). Any publication
must expect to be criticized, but, as one who has
been involved in Women's Pages since its inception, I
feel Struthers' criticisms are based on misinformation
and faulty reasoning.
First, I am aware of no "problems which have
plagued the paper," other than the time and sweat it
takes to put out a publication. While any student
group would greatly appreciate more funding, UWAG
has always put aside the necessary $120 per issue.
Struthers' charge that lack of funds results in a
"similar off-and-on management" of the Women's
Resource Center is totally groundless. There are five
full-time work-study women, plus several volunteers
who manage the Center, allowing it to be open at
least seven hours a day, five days a week.
Additionally, staff meetings, held every Thursday
afternoon, yield productive decisions and the
continuity needed to carry on the many projects the
resource center has underway. Perhaps Struthers
thinks that, because there are often groups of people
conversing in the center, there is no management to
it. Let me assure her this is not the case. The
atmosphere maintained in the resource center
encourages informal conversation yet there is always
someone there to help those persons who come to the
As to Women's Pages, it is primarily a paper
directed at women, and that includes avowed
feminists as well as those who are not. We try to
include articles of interest to a wide spectrum of
women. Therefore, our articles tend to be anything
but feminist rhetoric.
artist, therefore we cull graphics from other sources,
mostly other women's newspapers. We have also tried
to use several half-tone photographs, done by a local
woman. As to the bold headlines, may I remind her
that, unlike the Daily Nebraskan, we use no headliner
or elaborate equipment. We use press-on letters, not
known for their overwhelming variety of type faces.
Women's Pages has never pretended to be another
Lincoln Journal-Star. We have ideas and information
to share, and we try to do it in an appealing format.
Four journalists do all the editing and layout, but
most of the actual writing is done by nonjournalists.
And why not? Are journalists the only people who
have a right to communicate their ideas in print?
From what I've seen, many nonjournalists write quite
Perhaps the suggestion that we "come back to
Nebraska and leave the underground papers to
Berkeley" best betrays Struthers lack of knowledge
about the alternative press, and what a paper such as
Women's Pages is trying to do. The special interest
paper, in alternative journalism, revolves around a
central theme. It never claims to be an objective
establishment offshoot. What it does claim to do is
bring its readers information that they do not
normally have access to in the straight press. Also, it
allows for in-depth articles that cannot, because of
lack of space, appear in the straight press.
If Struthers thinks students in Nebraska, mostly
from rural towns, are incapable of appreciating such
articles, or think them too radical, then I think she is
insulting their intelligence. Rape, health care,
marriage and divorce, job pressures-thesc things
affect women everywhere. These are the keys to the
women's liberation movement, not rhetoric. What
other women are saying and doing, and why, is the
essense of the movement.
Struthers' biggest criticism seems to be the layout
of the paper. May 1 remind her that we have no paid
These special interest papers appear wherever
people think; wherever people have found
information worth communicating. The alternative
press flourishes in Chicago, St. Louis, Iowa City, Des
Moines, Omaha and even Lincoln. Berkeley has no
special claim to the artform.
If the whole thing boils down to improving our
image, so we are palatable to the average University
woman, then I think we need to ask just who the
average University woman is. Is she a woman who
would rather have a feminine-looking paper (in the
traditional sense) full of flourishing script and cutesy
graphics? Or is she a woman who wants to know how
to protect herself against rape, how to find a
competent doctor and why it's so difficult for her to
get a loan from a bank?
If it s the latter, then she will find it in our paper.
M - SfcUOr--
fridoy, february 7, 137D
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