The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, September 18, 1998, Page 5, Image 5

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    Court is in session
Clinton deserves punishments to fit his offenses
senior English major and
a Daily Nebraskan colum
Imagine for a minute that
Congress will have no power over the
fate of our nation’s president.
Imagine that the Supreme Court will
not have the final word, nor will any
one whose office is currently located
in Washington, D.C.
I have taken control of the entire
government. I AM the chief justice, I
AM Congress, and I have the final
say over whether or not William
Jefferson Clinton will remain in com
mand of the United States.
I have absolute power.
earnng any hypothetical truths
contained in the aforementioned
statements laid out heretofore in this
document, the presidential impeach
ment hearing will now come to order.
“Mr. Clinton, is it true that you
lied under oath as a defendant in the
case of Jones v. Clinton regarding
your sexual relationship with Monica
“Uh, yes sir, Your Honor.”
“I see. Well, I hereby sentence you
to do 50 push-ups on the CBS
Evening News to convey to America
your deep sense of regret and apolo
getic attitude toward this unfortunate
blunder. Is this understood, Mr;
Clinton?” ;i:
“Uh, yes sir, Your Honor.” ’ '
“Very well. Mr. Clinton, is it also
true that you lied under oath to the
grand jury about your sexual relation
ship with Ms. Lewinsky?”
“Uh, yes sir, Your Honor.
Unfortunately, I made the same mis
take there, too. It seemed like the
right thing to do because I didn’t want
to get caught so I... ”
“OK, don’t blubber all over my
floor. You must be one dumb son of a
gun, but what’s done is done. For this
offense, I hereby sentence you to sing
‘My Little Buttercup’ on national
television during halftime of next
year’s Super Bowl while standing on
one leg and juggling two purple
bowling pins. Will this be acceptable,
Mr. Clinton?”
“Uh, yes sir, Your Honor, Sir!
Bowling is one of my secret passions
and I do enjoy a good solo now and
then. It keeps me feeling young and
lets me release my inner demons on
the proposition of handling the busi
ness of America while... ”
“Enough!! We’re not done yet.
Can we please proceed, Mr. Clinton?”
“Uh, yes sir, Your Judgeship, Sir.
I’m sorry, Mr. Your Honor, Sir.”
“Thank you. Now where was I.
Oh, yes - here we are. Mr. Clinton, is
it true that you lied under oath during
your civil deposition when you said
you could not recall being alone with
ms. Lcwmssy ana mai you — on, mis
is nice - quote ‘minimized the num
ber of gifts the two of you had
“Oh, boy. Do I really have to
answer that Mr., uh, I mean, Your
Greatness, Sir?”
“I’ll be asking the questions, is
that understood? Answer or I’ll be
forced to release you into the immedi
ate custody of the Hell’s Outlaws
biker gang!!”
“In that case, I most certainly did
lie about those things, Your Honor!
And may I add that that is one fine
looking black garment you are sport
ing on this lovely afternoon...”
“SILENCE! Flattery will get you
nowhere in this court, young man!
Now, in addition to your already light
sentence, I am going to tack on three
years of flipping burgers at a
McDonald’s in Iowa whatsoever lies
farthest from any known civilization.
Are we clear on that?”
“Beautiful. I may just get home
sometime this year after all. Now...”
“Excuse me, Your Honor, Sir. But
if it please the court, may I use the
restroom now?”
“NO! Absolutely not! And don’t
interrupt me when I’m talking to you!
There are no bathrooms here, so
you’ll just have to wait until you get to
“Now, as I was saying, you are
also charged with lying - here we go
again - under oath in - yes, this just
keeps getting better and better! - the
same civil case about conversations
you had with Ms. Lewinsky about her
involvement in the Jones case. Bob,
am I reading this right? Geez - Sir,
how do you plead?”
“Most enthusiastically guilty,
Your Honor! Thought that was pretty
clever, myself!”
“Well, the hits just keep on
cornin’! For this one - and it kills me
to do this - I’m sentencing you to per
form the Truffle Shuffle in only your
boxers during the singing of ‘Take
Me Out to the Ballgame’ at every
Cubs home game during the next
baseball season. Is that understood?”
lean, jusi one prooiem. is 11 in
our nation’s best interest for me to do
it in my underwear in front of...”
“Well, now that you mention it -
YES! Absolutely! Anymore brilliant
“No, WHAT!!”
“No Sir, Your Honor, Sir!” 4&
“That’s better. Now, you are
also charged with... lying to
the court... obstructing 1
justice ... tampering
with witnesses ... Oh, this is good I
... inability to carry out your con- f|
stitutional duties ... Mr Clinton! 1|
May I ask if there is any federal If
crime you haven’t committed in
the last eight months?”
“Uh, yes sir. To my knowl
edge, I never held upa bank?’.• . ■■!
‘‘Hallelujah! What about hB
lying ... is there anything you iWk
haven’t lied about in the past m0>
eight months?” tjX
“Nope, I pretty much lied ^
whenever possible. It was neat. It
felt like I was a secret agent or
someone trying my country or
myself. I couldn’t stop. It’s kind of
like when you eat one Dorito and you
just keep eating...”
“OK! I get the picture. Now, for
the remainder of the alleged offenses,
which this court will go out on a limb
and assume you are guilty of; I am
going to have to terminate your reign
as president of the United States and
remand you to the immediate custody
of the National Rifle Association for
subsequent target practice to be car
ried out in which you, Mr. Clinton,
will be the target.
“Geez, get up on the wrong side
of the bed, there, Judgy? Wife make
you sleep on the couch again? In fact,
aren’t you the guy who just lost a
fight with my dog, because you look
like crap! Yeah, maybe you’re the one
who needs some punishment, pal! I’ll
show you what target practice is... ”
“Guards! Get this man out of
my sight! Let the record show
that Mr. Clinton, and Mr. Gore (E
as well, no longer hold any
power whatsoever in this fine v
country. We shall enter a tempo- '
rary phase in which a lame goose
office until that time when the current
baseball season is over.
“On that date, Mark McGwire
and Sammy Sosa will take office as
our new leaders. Whoever has the
most home inha- Wlirbe jnaUgik^l^ -
as president and the runner-up as
vice-president. This court is hereby
That’s it! I can’t take this any
I wonder if I can still get a tee
Robb Blum/DN
Get out of jail free
Community based correctional programs best prepare inmates for outside world
TIM SULLIVAN is a third
year law student and a
Daily Nebraskan colum
I spent nearly 13 years of my life
working in Nebraska state mental
institutions, prisons and a federal
prison in Colorado. I’ve come to the
conclusion that half the inmates in
prison don’t need to be there.
That’s right. Your eyes did not
deceive you.
In case you still don’t believe what
you read, I’ll say it again - half the
inmates in prison don’t need to be
I should qualify my assertions,
First of all, I am not saying that
half the inmates in prison today do not
deserve to be punished for the crimes
they have committed against society.
What I am saying is that half the
inmates in prison today are housed in
institutions that exceed the level of
security necessary for public protec
The vast majority of inmates are
housed in secure facilities classified
as maximum, medium or minimum
security. Community custody is the
lowest level of security.
What happens when we incarcer
ate someone in these types of facili
We take people whose morals and
values are somewhat less than what
society has established as the “norm,”
and we put them in prison environ
ments where morals and values are
likely somewhat lower than theirs.
Then we put these people back out on
the streets expecting them to function
in society with a moral and value sys
tem at least equal to or greater than the
44— »>
Logic dictates the result. We chum
out people worse than they were when
they went in. We send them out into
the world angry, bitter, without skills,
nearly penniless and without hope or
meaning in their lives.
Then, we expect them to be “reha
I challenge anyone to find that
word in the mission statement of the
Nebraska Department of Correctional
Services. You won’t.
Community custody facilities
allow inmates to work on supervised
work details that serve state agencies.
They are permitted to hold jobs with
private employers in the community
and attend institutions of higher edu
cation. Inmates are allowed to go to
church, shopping, Alcoholics
Anonymous meetings, Narcotics
Anonymous meetings and on fur
lough with their families.
Community-based correctional
programming best serves the public
by imposing higher morals and values
on inmates housed within their walls
than the ones imposed on those who
live in more secure facilities. By
doing so, inmates are better prepared
to function within the “norm.”
Self-esteem is bolstered through
community programming. Inmates
get a sense of pride and accomplish
ment from being able to do meaning
ful work while serving their sentence.
They reestablish ties with their fami
i nese inmates are less nicely to
leave angry, bitter and hopeless.
Before you go off branding me a
“bleeding-heart liberal” or some other
such endearing term, consider that I
have seen the system from the inside.
I first started work in the system
as a security specialist/psychiatric
technician at the Lincoln Regional
Center. I worked in what was then
called the Security Unit. It’s now
called Forensic Mental Health
That’s where they house those
found not guilty (or not responsible)
by reason of insanity. Some are emer
gency police commitments consid
ered a danger to themselves or others,
violent schizophrenics, mentally dis
ordered sex offenders, etc.
That was 1982. At that time, the
drugs and methods used to treat
severe mental disorders such as schiz
ophrenia were not nearly as effective
as they are today.
As a result, violent and self
destructive behavior on the part of
patients in that unit occurred with
much greater frequency than it does
I went on from there to work as a
correctional officer at the Diagnostic
& Evaluation Center - the Nebraska
Department of Corrections’ “fish
A “fish tank,” to borrow a prison
lingo phrase, is where the Department
of Corrections houses all new and
returning inmates for about 90 days,
while they classify them and decide at
which institution thev will be housed.
From there, I went to work at the
Lincoln Correctional Center, where I
was promoted to corporal and worked
central control - the yard and segrega
tion (the hole). I was promoted again
to Unit Supervisor I and worked on a
combination general population/men
tal health unit.
After that, I transferred to work
release as a Unit Supervisor I. Then I
was reclassified to sergeant and again
to lieutenant when I began supervis
ing all three shifts of the custody staff
(correctional officers). I also went
into the officer-of-the-day rotation,
meaning I served as acting superin
tendent nights and weekends for eigh
weeks or so.
I taught self-defense, self-con
tained breathing apparatus and com
munity corrections classes for the
staff training academy.
I left there and went to work as a
correctional officer at the Florence
Correctional Complex in Florence,
Colo. For those of you unfamiliar
with Florence, that’s where the new
“supermax,” or, to coin another
phrase, the new “Alcatraz,” is.
Suffice it to say that I have seen a
lot of inmates (and staff) come and go.
I saw a lot.
My experience at Florence was
enough for me. I quit corrections alto
gether and returned to school full
time at UNL. I raced through the
undergraduate part of my education in
three years (I was a political science
major) and then entered into law
I worked as an on-call at the
Regional Center again while I did my
undergraduate program, mostly in the
Security Unit (Forensic: Meatai Heath
Services, for you attention-to-detail
So go ahead and brand me a bleed
ing-heart liberal or anything else your
little heart desires.
We simply need to re-evaluate
whether we want to waste billions of
dollars housing inmates in secure
facilities that cost far more than com
munity-based facilities. Consider that
these expensive-to-operate facilities
are not only unnecessary for half the
inmates in them, but they make the
inmates worse when they come out as