Criminals get more decency than fired guardsDontay Carter...

the Forum

January 27, 1993

Criminals get more decency than fired guards

Dontay Carter has claimed yet two more victims. This time, it was with our help.

We suffered a fright when he escaped. Our fragile sense of security suffered yet another blow. So in our ever-increasing tendency to blame someone for whatever discomfort we experienced we sought -- and found -- the culprits.

The culprits, however, are no Dontay Carters. They are two decent and honorable men who have served this community admirably and until now faultlessly in a thankless and stressful job.

Unlike the convicted murderer whom they were charged to guard, they have supported families and paid taxes and upheld the law. And unlike the murderer, on whom we have spent many months and untold thousands of dollars to protect his rights, these two men were summarily stripped of their livelihood in less than 48 hours after the escape, at the height of community hysteria and outrage.

Did the jail guards make a mistake in judgment? Yes. But that is not the whole story.

Those who work in the Mitchell courthouse know facts that help explain what the public perceives as incomprehensible. But our officials and politicians want to blame before they get blamed, the commentators make their living pointing fingers, and we the public want heads to roll.

The escape truly reflected a mistake in judgment, not a corrupt motive. If we have no compassion for these two men, we are self-righteous hypocrites, because who among us makes no mistakes?

If we cannot look at these men's total record of service and at least consider and discuss disciplinary alternatives to termination, then we afford them less decency than we give our worst criminals.

Page Croyder

Baltimore

Don't smoke, or drink and drive

It is commendable for the Baltimore Orioles to ban smoking at the stadium. Now they should turn their attention to another problem that can also harm people: excessive alcohol consumption.

The health dangers of alcohol are just as great as those of smoking. Added to those dangers are the problems caused by someone who has been drinking too much and then must drive home. The problems caused by drinking and driving can ruin someone's life in just a split second.

As a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, I am not advocating a total ban on alcohol. I would, however, like to see stadium officials become more responsible in serving alcohol and monitoring consumption. This could be done with a more aggressive designated driver program and training for all alcohol concession employees.

I hope the stadium authorities will continue to show their concern for the public's health in all areas, not just smoking. The life they save might be their own.

Donna Becker

Towson

The writer is president of the Northern Maryland Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Carter country

Once again Maryland's leaky criminal justice system has inadvertently loosed a dangerous criminal upon the long-suffering citizenry. Perhaps signs should be erected at the state line and Baltimore City limits saying "Welcome to (Dontay) Carter Country."

This episode, juxtaposed with the silly spectacle of the mayor and others promoting a program encouraging citizens to turn in their firearms, leaves no doubt as to where many of our elected officials place their priorities.

However, as befits an embattled population, the vast majority of Baltimore City's citizens have justifiably refused to willingly give up their one sure means of self defense.

Richard Lyons

Chase

Rape is for life

Rape and sexual abuse are unfortunately very old topics. Programs exist to help counsel the victims and make women aware of self-protective measures. While these programs are good and necessary, it's time to address those committing the crimes -- men.

A woman's body is her own. At any point she has the right to say "no" and have it respected. "No" really does mean no and not "maybe," as many men still believe.

Second, the old standard of "all women want it" must be removed from our society. This is indeed prehistoric thinking. It's time for men's attitudes toward women to change and for women to be respected as true equals.

Finally, men need to understand one important fact aboaut rape and abuse. The pain does not end with the end of the act. Instead, it only begins at this point and continues not only for the remainder of the victims' lives but also for the remainder of the lives of all others involved with the victim.

We must care for the victims. Let's also concentrate on reducing the numbers of those responsible. It's time that all of us, men and women, stand together and publicly state that these crimes must end. Perhaps more public discussions on this topic will educate people to the true pain involved and get the message across that this society is no longer willing to sweep this problem under the carpet.

William B. Steele

Fairfield, Ohio

Decriminalization

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