Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
Oxford Eagle on the suspension of a fraternity at the University of Mississippi:
Greek organizations have been a large part of life in our community because they have been active on the Ole Miss campus for more than 100 years.
That’s why when a national organization indefinitely suspends one of its chapters on campus it is major news. The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Ole Miss is one of the oldest on campus and word this week of its suspension has rattled some students and alumni.
The national organization cited “the result of health and safety concerns” among its reasons for indefinitely suspending the chapter, releasing all pledges and suspending all active members.
Being proactive is a good thing, because we have learned in the past year from tragic results at Penn State and LSU that Greek behavior like hazing and widespread alcohol and drug abuse can have dire consequences.
None of the Greek organizations on the Ole Miss campus were founded in the name of hazing and none were founded on the backbone of alcohol and drug misuse. Such behavior cannot be acceptable.
We don’t yet know details regarding the SAE suspension but the national chapter’s “result of health and safety concerns” tells us that the move was warranted.
Greek organizations do considerable good, with many positive stories to tell. But if a culture produces health and safety concerns change is the only option.
The Vicksburg Post on an exhibit with historical information about the siege of Vicksburg during the Civil War:
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Vicksburg National Military Park have taken another step toward making Vicksburg a destination for tourists.
The Board Friday approved a request from park officials to install a wayside exhibit with historical information on the property near the monuments in the Pemberton Square Shopping Center on Pemberton Boulevard.
Scott Babinowich, the park’s chief of interpretation, said the 2-by-3 marker “will provide information about events that occurred in the area during the siege of Vicksburg in 1863.”
The history of the siege of Vicksburg and its impact on the outcome of the Civil War is one of the most important stories in our nation’s history, and that’s what makes the National Military Park a primary tourist destination in Mississippi, not just for state residents, but for visitors from across the country and foreign visitors who come to experience the nation’s history.
When the park was first built, it covered a much larger area than it now encompasses. The six monuments on Pemberton Boulevard that will be honored by the exhibit are only a few of the markers and monuments left in the city when the park returned land to the city in the mid-60s.
All one has to do is travel along sections of Confederate Boulevard and Iowa Boulevard to see other monuments, plaques and earthworks that were part of the old park.
Markers showing the locations of unit headquarters and gun emplacements are visible in the downtown area and along Fort Hill Drive, which leads to another entrance to the military park.
History - both the history of the siege and the city’s place in the history of the Blues - are what brings people to Vicksburg, and anything the city can do to enhance our place in history only makes it more attractive as a tourist destination.
And it’s good to see the city and the officials at the Vicksburg National Military Park cooperating to ensure our story gets told and enable those who visit here to experience our history and culture have every opportunity to learn about it and see it firsthand.
Attractions like the waterpark and the sports complex will help attract tourists, but our history is still the main draw, and how well we tell our story is one of the things people will talk about and remember after they leave.
That marker will help with that.
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal of Tupelo on a state bill that would give employers a tax credit if they hire non-violent felons:
A clear break is evident on the road to full rehabilitation for Mississippians who have paid their debts to society if they are unable to find jobs afterward.
But the reality is that the process of finding and acquiring employment can be significantly more difficult for a Mississippian who has served out a prison sentence and is seeking to integrate back into the norms of society.
Oftentimes, this leaves those residents without a job and puts them straight back into the life of crime that got them into trouble to begin with. This vicious cycle of recidivism is, unfortunately, all too real in Mississippi and across the country.
One Northeast Mississippi legislator plans to offer legislation during the 2018 session that he says might help end that cycle for some.
The bill Rep. William Tracy Arnold, R-Booneville, plans to introduce would give employers a $2,500 tax credit for one year if they hire non-violent felons who have completed their sentences. That non-violent detail is an important part of this proposal that should hopefully bring a sense of ease to those weary of considering an effort to promote the hiring of convicted criminals.
As a minister, Arnold says he’s seen firsthand the hardships that these residents go through in trying to find a job with the stigma of being a felon attached to their applications. He’s also seen that result in residents returning to a life of crime, which is what he ultimately hopes to prevent.
“This will give people a second chance to be productive citizens,” Arnold said.
Arnold believes the tax credit will actually save the state money because it costs the state about $30,000 per year to incarcerate a person convicted of a felony, as reported by the Daily Journal’s Bobby Harrison. A tax credit is the amount of money a person is able to subtract from taxes owed the government.
Arnold said he has filed similar legislation in the past, but it has died in committee.
A bill did pass the Legislature in the 2015 session providing a tax credit for employers who hire military veterans.
Obviously those two initiatives are very different, yet both are important in their own rights.
Arnold’s proposition deserves consideration for many reasons.
Helping eliminate recidivism throughout our state should always appeal to residents and leaders alike. No one - including the average taxpayer - wins when someone is stuck on a continuous loop through the criminal justice system. While there will always be some that are impossible to remove from that loop, making an effort to help those that truly are capable of integrating back into society seems like a valuable effort worth further exploration and discussion.
Ultimately, it gives us an opportunity to allow Mississippians who have made mistakes in their lives a second chance once they have served their time.
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