Thursday, June 19, 2008

Not Enough Circles In Hell

From Murray Waas. The only failure in the whole piece is this sentence:

Historians are already arguing whether the Bush administration has engaged in cronyism and favoritism at the expense of professionalism and competence.
They are only debating which was worse, the cronyism or the favoritism. I think the votes are in that everything was at the expense of professionalism and competence. After you read the linked article you'll be astounded to discover that their antipathy towards government programs was so great that they would practically have preferred burning taxpayer money on the lawn of the white house to using it to help children in prison, children in need, or children at risk for being raped. Luckily, they found out it wasn't necessary to burn the money, they could just redistribute it to Bill Bennett's Wife or a former Honduran General


Another group that was turned down for an OJJDP grant– despite the strong recommendations of career Department employees that it be awarded one was the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), a Washington D.C. based advocacy group for victims of rape and sexual assault.

Among other things, RAINN runs a telephone hotline for victims of rape and sexual assault, which has put hundreds of thousands of victims together with local rape crisis centers. RAINN ranked 14th best among 104 prospective grantees in the category in which it applied. The group directly competed against the World Golf Association, which was ranked 47th in the competition, and Best Friends, which ranked 51st.

Flores has refused to answer questions about why he turned overruled his staff in funding RAINN. One OJJDP employee said Flores expressed concerns to him that some rape victims might possibly be counseled as to how to obtain abortions by rape counseling centers which RAINN refers those who contact the organization’s telephone hot line. President Bush, however, has publicly praised the organization, as have conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill.

But most importantly, Flores’ office is by law supposed to take a leading role in removing kids from adult jails, where they are sexually assaulted and at high risk for suicide. Indeed, that policy objective was central to the OJJDP’s creation during the Carter administration.

In 1986, the Reagan administration’s Administrator of OJJDP, Al Regnery resigned after being confronted with allegations that he, like Flores, had disregarded the recommendations of his career staff and federal regulations to award grants for political or ideological reasons. Regnery awarded grant money to the dean of the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty College to devise a high-school course on the Constitution. He awarded $789,000 to a former songwriter for “Captain Kangaroo” to study pornographic cartoons.

Regnery had also been asked by then-Attorney General Edwin Meese III to informally spearhead the Regan administration’s anti-pornography campaign. Regnery provided the initial funding to the President’s Commission on Pornography with OJJDPF funds diverted from juvenile crime prevention programs.

kids_jail.jpg But most of all, Regnery ignored the federal law to act to remove children from adult jails. Regnery and his boss, then-Attorney General Edwin Meese believed that jailing children with adults was a deterrent to crime. The Reagan administration purposely did little to urge state governments to comply with the law.

The consequences to children were devastating. When incarcerated with adults, children are subjected to physical and sexual assaults, raped, and even murdered. According to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, for the year 2005, 21% of sexual assault victims in jails were juveniles even though kids only constitute less than 1% of the nation’s incarcerated population.

But even more tragic, locking up children with adults in jails and prisons often leads a significant number to commit suicide. According to one federal study, children incarcerated in adult jails and prisons commit suicide at 36 times the rate that they do when they are locked up with other juveniles.

With Regnery’s resignation, OJJDP returne