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“It really shows his com-mitment to the University,”Miller said. “Some of thepeople in the audience aregoing to make names forthemselves as writers, andI hope having [Groom] hereis inspiring for them.”Sigma Tau Delta, theUniversity’s EnglishHonors Society, sponsoredthe event.“The Phi Xi Chapter oSigma Delta Tau is reallyexcited to be able to hosthis kind of talk,” said NadiBarksdale, a senior major-ing in English. “We hopeto bring in other Alabamwriters to speak at UA.”
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Miller hopes Groominspired UA’s writers
Lindsay Smith, a juniormajoring in marketing, saidshe attends many concertsand admitted the fees asso-ciated with tickets can befrustrating.“I attend some eventshere in Tuscaloosa,mostly at the TuscaloosaAmphitheater,” Smithsaid. “[I pay] anywherefrom $10 to about $60. TheAmphitheater often offersdiscounted ticket prices orstudent tickets through theFerg for about $15, whichis awesome.”Smith said when she buya ticket online she usuallhas to pay a conveniencefee in addition to taxes.“If I buy a ticket at anactual box office, there aretypically less or no conve-nience fees, but it’s oftendifficult to get tickets fromthe venues, especially fome because I go to so manyout-of-town shows,” Smithsaid. “Ultimately though,it’s all worth it becauselove seeing my favorite art-ists perform – there’s noth-ing like it for me.”
“Many times patients will beadmitted for treatment a yearor more after they have beencharged,” Toppins said. “Evenwhen the court has orderedtreatment, sometimes it cantake three months to get intoTaylor Hardin because we can’taccept a new patient without anopen bed.”Toppins said the TaylorHardin Facility also does pre-trial work with patients.“Not guilty for reason of insanity patients are treatedin our facility after receivingthis verdict from the courts.Pre-trial patients have beencharged with a crime and havenot been seen in court, yet,”Toppins said. “In many cases,patients are also evaluatedregarding their competence tostand trial, which is a consti-tutional right. Patients aren’talways assessed for both cases,but it’s pretty common for theseto go hand-in-hand.”Toppins said after obser-vation and analysis, TaylorHardin Secure Medical Facilitypsychologists draft reports andprovide opinions before thecourts regarding a defendant’scurrent mental state and dur-ing the time of the crime.This work, Colquitt said, ispart of the development of aninsanity defense.“Normally, the insan-ity defense is supported byevidence developed throughmental examinations and test-ing by psychiatrists, psycholo-gists and other mental healthtreatment professionals,”Colquitt said. “In many cases,lay testimony concerning thedefendant and any aberrantbehavior observed by a witnessor witnesses is support of theinsanity defense.”According to the AlabamaConstitution, mental diseasecan be a defense for any crimeif the accused proves an inabil-ity to comprehend, at the timeof the crime, the severity of theact because of mental diseaseor defect.
“The main question [regard-ing the criminally insane]is the mental state of thedefendant at the time of theact,” James Tucker, the assis-tant director of the AlabamaDisability Advocacy Programat The University of Alabama,said. “Essentially, mentalhealth staff to try to determinewhether or not the defendanthad the mental capacity, atthe time of the crime, to formcriminal intent.”This staff might soon thinout. Last spring, the AlabamaDepartment of Mental Healthannounced plans to lay off 948employees and close many psy-chiatric hospitals in the state,according to al.com. Tuckersaid Alabama citizens shouldbe concerned about the cuts– over the past four years, theDepartment of Mental Healthhas been cut by $40 million.
“There is definitely a reasonfor citizens of Alabama to beconcerned about the cuts fac-ing mental health and socialservice programs in the state,”Tucker said. “There were prob-ably places that needed to becut back, but I don’t understandwhy we need to cut $40 mil-lion when federal funding canmatch almost 2:1 for communi-ty-based treatment facilities.”Tucker suggested stateinvestment in more commu-nity-based treatment centers,rather than institutional treat-ment centers like Taylor HardinSecure Medical Facility.“Institutional care is nowlargely viewed as a last resort,”Tucker said. “At a place likeTaylor Hardin, the state of Alabama pays 100 percent of the cost for each bed. Theseinstitutions don’t receive anymoney from the federal govern-ment. However, community-based services, like outpatientcenters and group homes, costsare largely matched by federalfunds.”However, Toppins said thebudget cuts haven’t affectedTaylor Hardin Secure MedicalFacility treatment or intakerate, despite being short on psy-c
hiatrists and psychologists.“The budget cuts don’t affectour treatment. If we’re short-staffed, then everyone justworks overtime,” Tobbins said.“The work doesn’t change evenwhen we’re understaffed. If apatient stays longer, it doesn’tnecessarily affect the ability foranother patient to begin treat-ment at Taylor Hardin. We’retalking weeks here, not a hor-ribly long time.”
Tucker said current fundallocation and budgeting maymake Department of Healthprograms impossible to main-tain in coming years.“We are approaching a pointwhen the department of mentalhealth won’t be able to sustainitself,” Tucker said.
Vargas went on to workfor The Washington Post,where he wrote award-winning coverage of theVirginia Techmassacre,and coveredvarious can-didates on the2008 presiden-tial campaignbefore pen-ning an essayfor The NewYork Timesrevealing hisundocumentedstatus.Vargas saidhis role as a journalist haschanged since revealinghimself as anundocumented immigrant.“I knew that instead of relying on news organiza-tions to tell my story, I hadto tell my own,” Vargassaid. “It’s just very uncom-fortable, for a journalist.It’s kind of a separation of church and state – journal-ists are not supposed to talkabout themselves; we’renot supposed to insert our-selves in the middle of it.”George Daniels, anassociate professor inthe journalism depart-ment, said that althoughVargas’ advocacy journal-ism work is not the typicalprint medium, it’s still verymuch journalism.“We’re going to emphasizehow the work of the printedword can be transformedand presented in so manydifferent mediums, one of those beingthe docu-mentarymedium,”Daniels said.Vargas’“Is ThisAlabama?”documen-tary seriesarose whenhe visitedBirminghamlast October,shortly afterthe passage of HB-56. He saidhe was interested in gettingpast the Alabama stereotypeand seeing what the averageAlabamian was like.In two videos, a whitefarmer and a white school-teacher talk about how theydon’t agree with the law andhow it could adversely affecttheir lives. In another, a manverbally harasses the vid-eographer and Vargas, yell-ing obscenities and tellingthem to “get their papers orget out.”“Is that Alabama,” Vargassaid in reference to the vid-eos, “or is this Alabama?”
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Journalist tells hisimmigration story
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Some students sayextra price worth it
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Wilkins case couldshow effect of cuts
It’s just very uncomfortable,for a journalist. It’s kind of aseparation of church and state– journalists are not supposedto talk about themselves; we’re not supposed to insertourselves in the middle of it.
— Jose Antonio Vargas