Smile Politely

Two wake-up calls for the government

These op-eds were written by Education Justice Project students. Education Justice Project offers upper-division college courses for credit at Danville Correctional Center. Its mission is to build a model college-in-prison program that demonstrates the positive impacts of higher education upon incarcerated people, their families, the communities from which they come, the host institution, and society as a whole.


America, thou sleep’st: awake, and see thyself.

Shall partisan politics continue to keep our elected officials from doing the jobs we put them in office to do?  Speak, strike, redress!

America, thou sleep’st: awake!

Congress’s inability to come up with a long-term budget agreement is still in danger of sending America into the first default this country has ever faced, first through fighting to repeal The Affordable Care Act, and now fighting the Farm Bill. Why should a group of people with health care for life fight to keep the people they represent from being able to afford the same luxury? 

The government shut down for 16 days, beginning October 1, 2013, but Congress seems to be more concerned with repealing Obamacare than with how the shut down could affect the country.  According to Mark Zandi, an economist from Moody’s, “a government shut down will bring a loss of jobs. Consumer confidence, investor confidence, and business confidence will decline. Businesses will stop hiring. Consumers will stop spending. The stock market will fall significantly in value. And borrowing costs for businesses and households will rise.” 

At the end of the government shutdown, we find that many of the things Mr. Zandi warned us about did in fact happen: consumer confidence plunged; non-government contractors, furloughed due to the shutdown, are told will not receive back pay; and an estimated $12 billion was lost as a result.

Congresses latest short-term budget agreement gives them until February to try and work it out, or face another shutdown.

Maybe Mr. Smith needs to go back to Washington, to remind our elected officials of their responsibilities.  Politicians should have respect for the voters and for each other; they should believe in compromise, and they should not be afraid to agree.  Our government needs to study its history to learn how to get the job done.

America, thou sleep’st: awake, and see thyself.

If you feel like your voice is not being heard, vote these officials out in the 2014 congressional elections.  Speak, strike, redress!

America, thou sleep’st: awake!

Shaun Wilkes


With Illinois prisons having overcrowding issues, depleting state resources for non-violent and victimless crimes that could be punished in other ways instead of wasting time and resources on imprisoning people for minor offenses.

Politicians talk about getting tough on crime to get elected, yet they’re harsh on minor offenses that land everyday people in state prisons. The spending on these offenders could be better utilized to save money and to help offenders at the same time.

Every time I turn on the TV, I hear politicians talk about what new bill they want to pass to show they’re getting tough on crime. In the past, I assumed they were referring to violent crimes; however, the truth of the matter is this includes non-violent and minor crimes.

Some of these “minor crimes” include driving under the influence and driving on revoked licenses.

The sentences for these crimes are 1 to 3 years in prison with additional parole conditions. The average cost to house a prisoner in an Illinois state prison is approximately $20,000 a year.

Luis Saucedo

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