More prisons won't solve the crime problemI would like to...

the Forum

February 02, 1994

More prisons won't solve the crime problem

I would like to add a whisper to the growing cacophony about crime and crime prevention.

Recently I drove from downtown along Interstate 83 going north and saw a building under construction next to the State Penitentiary. I assumed it was another prison building; no one in his right mind would build anything else there.

"Do they really expect more crime?" I asked myself. A prison by definition is an admission of defeat and failure. Success, by whatever measure, would mean prisons would soon be empty and obsolete.

All the rhetoric shows once again that we are tackling the crime problem in a superficial manner and that proposed "solutions" are spasmodic efforts thrown together on paper without regard for the long-term prospect of success.

As soon as funds become available and sites are selected there will be meetings and petitions. Soon the very legislators who voted for the measure will be hard pressed by their constituents to get the proposed prison out of their back yards.

We are told that new anti-crime measures would allow for longer sentences, fewer paroles, etc. Who are they kidding?

Judging from history, we simply cannot bring ourselves to do that. I heard the other day a commentator on television saying these issues are important, but also emotional and sensitive, so we should expect no action this election year.

But these will always be sensitive and emotional issues. Does that mean we will never see any action on them?

This in a way is the disease, not the prisons. The prisons are merely a symptom. If we do nothing, all that the new prisons will accomplish is to fill up rapidly and help us overtake South Africa as the nation with the highest percentage of the population behind bars.

Peter C. Sotiriou

Baltimore

Tough cop

While I am sure that most police officers in this city do a commendable job, I also believe that there are a minority who tarnish the reputation of the others.

Last Saturday evening I happened to be involved in a situation with one of the latter while I was attending mass at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Church in Mt. Washington.

Running late for church, I parked my car on Smith Avenue (directly opposite the church) next to a sign that says "No Parking."

Yes, I know I should have not parked here, but I wasn't really concerned because people routinely park along this stretch of Smith Avenue for services, and I have never been aware of anyone being ticketed.

Upon exiting church, I noticed a police officer waiting behind my car who informed me that since my car was parked illegally and impeding traffic, I was ticketed and would be towed to the city impound lot.

I was in no way impeding traffic and did not see the reason why I could not just accept the ticket and leave.

But the officer, who all the time sat in his car with his "I'm a tough cop" attitude, refused to cancel the tow truck (even though he had just called it) and refused to let me accept the ticket and leave.

This city has one of the highest murder and crime rates in the country. I was assured by the officer's supervisor that this is not indicative of the force as a whole.

If this particular officer normally carries out his duty by ticketing and towing the cars of individuals attending church instead of fighting real crime, then maybe it's time he review what his real purpose as an officer is.

David J. Bender

Baltimore

Impeach Clinton?

Lawrence Walsh, the special prosecutor for the Iran-contra affair, has released his final report. After seven years and some $40 million, he found no evidence of criminal misconduct on the part of former President Ronald Reagan.

Yet, despite having found nothing, he still contends that Congress should have considered impeachment for what he supposes was Reagan's role in that non-issue.

If the mere allegation of a crime is considered enough for the call to impeachment, then I say we have a major crisis brewing. There are numerous allegations floating around about criminal activity on the part of Mr. Clinton.

If allegations are enough, as Lawrence Walsh contends, then I think we have no choice but to now proceed with the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

Donald Howard

Baltimore

Many thanks

A note to thank all the men and women who worked so long and hard to keep us informed as to conditions of the weather, roads that were cleared by state and local governments.

Thanks also to the police, firefighters, newspaper and mail carriers, the trash people as well as the Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. and men fixing the broken pipes.

Katherine I. O'Neill

Catonsville

Moral faults marred King's greatness

After reading Gregory P. Kane's column "The stuff of heroism, greatness" in Other Voices, Jan. 17, I feel compelled to respond.

While Martin Luther King's civil rights accomplishments can never be diminished, how is it possible that one's opinion of the man cannot be changed at all by the revelations of plagiarism and mistresses?

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