Bush anything but compassionate
Letter to the editor
In response to Bridget O'Connor's column Friday, Governor George W. Bush may like to preach that he is a "compassionate conservative," but his policies certainly do not support this claim.
Since he became governor, Bush has overseen the execution of 113 prisoners in Texas, which is more than one execution for every two and a half weeks he has been in office and 20 percent of the executions in America since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.
Bush has signed the death warrants of many types of people: those who were juveniles at the time of their crime; a gay man whose public defender referred to gays as "queers" and "fairies" and slept during the trial; a born-again Christian woman whom even the pope made a plea to spare; mentally ill prisoners; mentally retarded prisoners; and at least one diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic.
Amnesty International has cited Texas's death row with numerous violations of international human right treaties, and representatives of foreign dictatorships have toured Texas's death row to learn how to run their operations more efficiently. Although this may be in line with conservative beliefs, it certainly is not compassionate.
Governor Bush's drug policies also are by no means compassionate. Under Governor Ann Richards, Bush's predecessor, first-time minor drug offenders received automatic probation with drug counseling. Bush quickly did away with these policies and first-time offenders now face prison time — even for the possession of less than one gram of narcotics. Many recreational users have been sentenced to prison on evidence that required lab testing to detect the presence of drug residue in their clothing.
While drug use is a large problem in our country, prison for first-time offenders is not the solution. Bush has slashed spending for drug rehabilitation programs, both in and out of prisons, instead using the money for more prison beds. Enough money is spent every 36 hours in Texas housing drug offenders to put the entire drug offender population in rehabilitation programs for an entire year. Bush has stated that "incarceration is rehabilitation," but statistics don't play this out.
A Texas state agency found that the recidivism rate for inmates who complete a treatment course is 20 percent less than for inmates who do not. Since Bush is heavily rumored to have used drugs recreationally while he was young, you would expect him to go easy on those making the same mistakes he did.
This is not compassion.
Due to his famous name and his pandering to any group that will listen to him, Governor Bush has emerged as the early front runner in this year's presidential election. His election will do much harm to the country. Bush has little political experience (he once stated that Bill Clinton shouldn't be president because he had only been a governor, yet Clinton had far more governing experience before his election than Bush does) and seems to have no firm opinions on any matter of political importance.
Make sure that before you vote on election day that you know about the candidates and that you are not simply voting for them because they have lots of money, a famous name or are claiming to be something they clearly are not.
Assistant Rowing Coach
January 21, 2000
All Viewpoint Stories for Monday, January 24, 2000