Light sentenceThe position taken by Judge Elsbeth L. Bothe...

the Forum

November 02, 1992

Light sentence

The position taken by Judge Elsbeth L. Bothe (Oct. 20) when sentencing the inmates involved in the riot and hostage-taking situation at the Maryland Penitentiary has caused grave concern among the many correctional employees AFSCME Council 92 represents throughout Maryland.

The one-day sentence for taking part in the riot and the 10-year concurrent sentence imposed for the hostage-taking (false imprisonment) represents little more than a slap on the wrist.

The judge's attempt to rationalize her decision, unfortunately, leaves the impression that it is more important to save the court's time in avoiding a trial than to send a strong message to the inmates that such incidents will not be tolerated.

With the disregard for authority that already exists among the inmates, what deterrent if any will be available to prevent recurrences if the courts fail to recognize appropriate penalties.

Was any concern taken into account regarding the correctional officers who, while held hostage, suffered the emotional and mental stress of the constant fear of death? In some of these cases, careers are ended due to the strain of removing that mental picture from their minds.

The state's continuing budget crisis has already stretched the officers' ability to function to their limits. Freezing of vacancies (800 positions), abolishment of support positions (such as recreational officers and social workers), reduction of educational programs along with the removal of inmate programs, has increased inmate idleness while creating a greater need for security.

During a time when the correctional officers needed morale support, the courts have seemed to turn their backs. The question then remains, who do the correctional officers turn to for support?

William Hudson Jr.

Joseph H. Cook

Baltimore

The writers are president and special projects director, respectively, for AFSCME Council 92.

Public schools must accept all pupils

Thomas G. Iler's letter "Catholic schools" (Oct. 27) does not address the fact that parochial schools are not required by law to accept every child who wishes to attend.

Parochial schools are comprised largely of children who are adequately fed, housed, clothed and nurtured, with high parental involvement in the child's well being.

Parochial schools can pick and choose the students they feel will fit their structured environment. Students who are disruptive, have learning disabilities or can't maintain the standard can be asked to leave.

Parochial schools are not required by law to implement and fund new programs mandated by the state government.

Public schools, on the other hand, must accept all children regardless of their strengths or weaknesses, learning styles or behavior patterns.

Public schools provide a myriad of services and creative programs to address the needs of children that are not found in parochial schools.

That is why proper public funding for public education is so essential for the well being of our children.

Paula Baziz

Pikesville

Drug problem

Will someone please tell me why I have to suffer for the irresponsibility of others? I'd like an answer from the people who are against legalizing drugs.

If people want to kill themselves smoking themselves to death, ++ drinking themselves to death (or worse, killing some innocent person on the road) or drugging themselves into zombies, that's their problem.

But now it is increasingly becoming my problem, and I don't like it!

Take the profit out of drug trafficking and maybe we can reclaim our country.

Evelyn Schabb

Brooklandville

The possibility of racial comity

After reading the article on Larry Hicks, Lou Catalfo and the "Lombard Street Divide" ("Old neighbors Little Italy and Flagg House don't speak anymore," Oct. 26), it occurred to me that their experience is probably a miniature of our national condition in matters of communal economics and racial atonement.

The American nation has from the beginning experienced this dichotomy of demonic national, economic reality accompanied by individual and communal civility -- even love.

There was, for example, no one in the world who loved and respected my late aunt, who was black, more than the white family of the owner of a national cosmetic chain, and she $H reciprocated in numerous non-servile ways.

But that was all yesterday. Yesterday the embryo of our co-racial selves was being incubated, very much like a mother nourishes an emerging infant -- often in radical pain; sometimes in blissful solace.

If we are successful in giving birth to racial comity, it will be because there exists a massive presence of the spirit of Messrs. Hicks and Catalfo in people -- supported, underwritten and led by our national institutions, including the federal government.

David E. Sloan

Baltimore

Federal responsibility to taxpayers

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