MADD cites delays in DWI facilityI am writing to voice my...

THE FORUM

August 20, 1992

MADD cites delays in DWI facility

I am writing to voice my concern about the delayed opening of the detention facility for drunk drivers in Baltimore County. Just a month ago, our chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving was told in a letter from County Executive Roger Hayden that the facility would open in January. Now we hear it will not open until March.

This facility will provide a 28-day treatment program for driving while intoxicated offenders, as well as incarceration. It is an alternative to sending them to prison, where treatment is not usually available.

The offenders will pay a fee to participate, which will make the facility self-supporting, costing the county nothing.

I have been told by Mr. Hayden that the delay is because of the financial crunch in Baltimore County. I think the county needs to get its financial priorities straight.

It is willing to spend $1 million to put out the stump dump fire; it spent additional money to hire a new spokesperson for the county executive. What about spending some money to save lives?

Drunk driving claims too many innocent lives each year. We need to find ways of keeping these drivers off the road. This program provides that opportunity.

We in MADD hope the county will take a hard look at this issue and open the facility with no further delays.

Donna Becker

Towson

The writer is president of the northern Maryland chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Government's drug money dependency

The wide and shallow education that we get in the media about our so called "war" on drugs obscures a horror that is harder to dramatize: The gutting of our civil liberties.

While the violence and excitement of the "war" hogs the spotlight, the Bush-Quayle administration is backstage building an unprecedented federal apparatus for putting people in prison.

More Americans are in federal prison today for drug crimes than were in federal prison for all crimes when Ronald Reagan took office. The U.S. has a bigger portion of its population behind bars than any other country, including a female population that has doubled in six years.

The Justice Department estimates that by 1995 more than two-thirds of all convicts will be incarcerated for drugs. This isn't a war on drugs; it's a jihad against people who use them.

Addiction isn't the government's first concern; treatment and prevention get less than half the funding that enforcement gets. Instead, the goal is simply to lock people up. Twice as many users as dealers are in prison for drug violations.

Even Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court -- no softee on drug offenders -- took it upon himself to chastise the Justice Department for overburdening the federal courts with petty drug cases.

In 1986, the Justice Department started offering local police departments a cut of the cash, houses, automobiles, airplanes and other assets confiscated in joint operations with federal drug agents -- cases that almost always go to federal instead of state court.

Since Justice started sharing the loot, confiscations have risen seventeen-fold to half a billion dollars a year, of which state and local departments got almost half. With police so dependent on the drug economy, they have little incentive for stamping it out completely! . . .

I.H. Desser

Baltimore

Service or slavery?

The Maryland Board of Education's requirement that forces students to work for other people -- regardless of whether it is "community service" or not -- is unconstitutional.

The 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865, states that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Whether it is 75 hours of community service or 75 years in a cotton field, slavery is just plain wrong.

The requirement that students must "volunteer" in order to graduate should be challenged legally and taken all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, until it is overturned.

This service requirement cannot be equated to schoolwork. When students take tests or do homework, no one else directly profits from that work except the students, who are receiving an education.

The mandatory service, however, despite any peripheral educational benefits to the students, directly benefits other people besides the students themselves. That is why it is slavery and not merely an alternative form of schoolwork.

The people who support this requirement are either unbelievably stupid or downright socialist. That such a requirement would even be considered, much less accepted, makes me ashamed to be a resident of Maryland.

Mark Burton

Glen Burnie

Hypocrisy on Haiti

I was taught that human beings had inalienable rights and that it was government's duty to see to it that these rights were protected.

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