Page 4


Loeb became politically: ce isqop a high school student in Los Angeles, after he was warned :that if the mm nest menace w ere not con tinted, ore beaches monists would someday land , upon e Southern “We all hung c ut on thy. beaches.” Loeb’. sand So he quickly cam didn’t last long `but he maintained a sense. of political responsibility While still in’ high school, he started reading his –:111040:7*-::.woo ::Hrotkow which’: helped him sec that “something else wa s going on” besides the Soviet treat to surfing He began; to hear “dissenting voices” std;: never stopped :hearing them It is these; voices Loeb’ . sought out . for his boob, Generation at a Crossroads Paul Loeb is’ an activist`: writer” and has written an activist book; that insists, prods and pushes people, :especially the young, toward political act vis i. and par icipation. Loeb understands that while the “demand that e erythii g fit into a p0 baps, on an unsullied sense “Justice comes froze thin kir huma t lives, and mowing the d between lives that are given a t flourish .arid lives that are:$1:010 was to overcome; innocence.” c Loeb: “thy challenge no 1.. What they need, Loeb reminds usand this is the observation that makes his thoughtful, well-researched book worthwhile to an older generationare models, mentors, men and women who inspire through strength of character and lives of engagement. Every involved student Loeb met recalled parents, a teacher, a minister, someone who inspired and encouraged. “Though we should be heartened by renewed student involvement,” Loeb writes, “no single generation can bear the sole responsibility for healing the world. No matter how skilled and courageous their stands, the students, and young men and women in general, will remain just one modest sector of America. They will only be able to act and act effectively if others stand beside them, and join in common cause.” Paul Loeb is speaking to us, of course, to those of us who not only have work of our own still to do but who have a re sponsibility to reach out, to reach back, to generations coming along behind us. So where have all the young ones gone? They’re out there, Loeb is telling us, but Every involved student Loeb met recalled parents, a teacher, a minister, someone who inspired and encouraged. they need our attention and encouragement. They need to see firsthand that commitment is a lifelong choice, not a callow collegiate indulgence. Continued from p. 2 programs supported by unions. And recently, former Republican Texas legislator Ed Emmett and I met with the Teamsters to discuss a program that would train prisoners in the skills required to become truck drivers. Emmett was the legislator most responsible for bringing contact visits to the Texas Prison System in the early eighties. Today, he believes that with a severe shortage of truck drivers expected in the near future, prisoners across the country would be excellent candidates. Truck-driving is one of the few blue-collar or “industry-type” jobs that shows a future need. This is why I prefer the term “prisonbased businesses.” It is much broader than “private industry” and includes the TWA phone reservations program that Yu refers to, through which prisoners are released with an average of $3,500 in their pockets, and in many cases, a job awaiting them. The TWA program is similar to the Best Western program, which I consider the model. In the early eighties, Best Western Motel and Hotel chain was looking for a workforce that could work during peak periods like Christmas. They approached the Arizona Prison for Women and established a satellite reservations answering service within the walls. The women prisoners were paid the same wage as the free-world employees who were doing the same work. In fact, they did not hire them when they were released, but transferred them so that they could keep their seniority. Out of the 170 women in the program, 50 continued to work for Best Western after they were released. In fact, one former prisoner became a bookkeeper after being promoted five times. In 1987, National CURE honored Best Western. Since then, they expanded to an international reservations center and when that expansion required them to close the program in the women’s prison, they made it very clear to us that they were totally satisfied with the work the prisoners had done. In my opinion, everybody can win in programs like this. Why couldn’t these women prisoners become associate union members? Why couldn’t they use their wages for higher-education courses, especially now that there has been a significant cut-back in these types of prison programs? The Texas Department of Criminal Justice just announced a cancelling of $13 million for college courses for its prisoners. And most of all, as Fred Braun, the father of prison-based businesses, says seriously more than facetiously, “for those who really want to punish prisoners, the best way is to make them taxpayers!” harlle