Jewish World Review August 30, 2002 / 22 Elul, 5762

Peter Roff

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Capital Comment | (UPI) Going to school on the prison population -- A recent study published by the Justice Policy Institute asserting more black men are in prison or jail than college has generated considerable debate inside Washington. One group that has reviewed the data, the Statistical Assessment Service, has concluded that the comparison is "meaningless."

"The Justice Policy Institute is comparing apples and oranges," STATS says. "You can go to prison at any age, but are most likely to be in college between the ages of 18-24. When you compare the figures for those ages, African-American males are considerably more likely to be in college." A spokesman for JPI concedes they did not control for age when conducting the study.

"Moreover, the JPI significantly underestimates the number of black males enrolled in college. Official Census Bureau data for 2001 shows 815,000 black males enrolled in college, as opposed to the 603,000 the JPI claims," STATS says. "This makes a huge difference to the figures." The JPI study cites different numbers, claiming 791,600 black men in jail or prison and 603,032 enrolled in colleges or universities in 2000. According to the STATS analysis, a college age black male is 2.5 times more likely to be in enrolled in an institution of higher education then be incarcerated. JPI dismisses the criticism, saying they were merely attempting to illustrate how states spend money on African-American males.

Shows me the money -- Rep. Ronnie Shows, D-Miss., who was thrown into the same congressional district as Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering by the post-2000 redistricting, is trailing badly in the race for campaign cash. "(Pickering's) got over $2 million in his campaign account," Shows said recently. "I've probably got 80 or 90 thousand." The admission comes several months after Shows campaign committee was forced to admit to the Federal Election Commission that it had illegally solicited and accepted more than $80,000 in individual, political committee and corporate contributions.

The dispute was settled in a conciliatory agreement with the FEC in which Shows paid $25,000 in civil penalties.

National Republicans greeted the news of Shows' financial difficulties with glee. "If Ronnie Shows is being truthful to Mississippi voters in claiming he only has $80-$90,000 in his campaign fund, he may as well close up shop and get out of this race because he has no chance of winning," National Republican Congressional Committee Communications Director Steve Schmidt said. "Based on Congressman Shows' admission, this race is over."

Because every vote counts -- The American Legion, one of the country's largest veterans' organizations, is taking on the task of reforming the nation's election laws. They want to prevent military personnel and their families from being disenfranchised.

In a letter from Legion National Commander Rick Santos, are urged "to ensure your election officials do (their) utmost to print absentee ballots" and make sure that active duty military personnel and their families can participate in the process wherever they may be.

The Legion is also asking supporters to call for the implementation of a new electronic voting system for use by military personnel using newly developed technology that has been tested in a DoD pilot program.

Hot date -- "Unfinished Business", the surefire best seller co-written by Julianne Malveaux, a liberal journalist, and conservative commentator Deborah Perry, is about to hit the bookstores. The two women will be feted at a book signing party at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the Georgetown section of Washington at 7:30 p.m. EDT, Sept. 5. The book is a debate between the two ideological opposites about the 10 issues "women care about most."

Old but active -- Beginning Tuesday, close to 1,000 members of the Alliance for Retired Americans -- a liberal seniors organization that some call the successor to the National Council on Senior Citizens -- will converge on the Hilton Washington Towers hotel for a three-day political action, activism and planning conference. The alliance, which says it represents 2.7 million union retirees, will release a national poll on the issues and candidates it says are most likely to capture the votes of seniors this fall.

The alliance says its members will also lobby on Capitol Hill, march in protest of the big pharmaceutical companies and hold strategy sessions to advance their legislative priorities at the polls this November. Among those speaking to the group are House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.; and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. On Wednesday, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., will be honored on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his election to the U.S. Senate.

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