Judges appear inconsistent in sentencesMy wife and I...

the Forum

October 12, 1994

Judges appear inconsistent in sentences

My wife and I, along with others who have written letters, are shocked and puzzled by the strange sentencing of convicted criminals.

In the Oct. 5 Evening Sun, there is another case that is hard to believe.

The man in question was originally charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a five-year suspended sentence.

At the time of his sentencing he was free on bail for charges of drug distribution, handgun violations and assaulting a police officer. The latest charges against him are for stealing a car and trying to run down an officer.

Can anyone tell us why a man who is out on bail for multiple charges, and then pleads guilty to manslaughter in another case, is given only five years probation?

No wonder criminals laugh at the law. Why was he not in prison?

Compare this with cases of life sentences for child molestation, where nobody is killed or physically injured.

The difference in sentencing is incredible. Are there no rules or guidelines? Why is a man with so many charges and convictions free to steal cars and assault police?

The public needs answers.

Andy Gardner

Westminster

Eroding rights

Mike Lane has portrayed Haitian and Somali gunmen who fought the U.S. armed forces as the National Rifle Association.

Quite the opposite is true. About half of the soldiers and Marines whom I've served with agree with the NRA, and many of the remainder believe the NRA does not go far enough to support the right to keep and bear arms. Less than a quarter would support some kind of gun control in America.

These brave men and women have taken an oath to support the Constitution and to defend not only the right to keep and bear arms, but also the First Amendment, which allows this paper to erode the rights of Americans.

Karl Hayhurst

Aberdeen Proving Ground

Voting for

After having a rat the size of a cocker spaniel attempt to move in with him, Jacques Kelly's equanimity regarding neighborhood conditions (as evinced by his Oct. 3 column) is remarkable.

That rat may have known something that Mr. Kelly seems unwilling to admit: When "For Sale" signs multiply, the tax base erodes. When the quality of life for humans declines, prospects for rats improve.

Mr. Kelly wants to believe that families are moving out of his neighborhood only because they are getting richer or they don't trust the schools.

But the surveys which preceded the drafting of enabling legislation for a Charles Village tax benefits district indicate other reasons -- "crime and grime."

Mr. Kelly will tackle crime by having policemen who spend too much time in neighborhood stores called on the carpet.

That's okay. But l'd also like to try the "safety team" in the proposed operations plan for the benefits district: trained professionals, providing 24-hour coverage, linking residents and workers with police, university and hospital security.

Mr. Kelly's column did not address grime.

The tax benefits district proposal includes an overall sanitation plan, including community education, rat eradication and beefed-up enforcement of housing and building codes.

Jacques Kelly frets that such a proposal implies that the mayor and City Council "have failed us so badly we need extraordinary corrective help."

Maybe it just means that we should exercise our democratic right and duty to help ourselves. With the tax benefits district we can do just that. That is why I am voting for it.

Jo Ann O. Robinson

Baltimore

Behold the terrible Taxosaurus Rex

The proposed tax district in Charles Village is of interest not only to the residents of that neighborhood but also to all residents of the city. What has been lacking up to this point is any real in-depth information about the plans for the district and how those plans came about.

To correct this situation, Intrepid Reporter did an exclusive interview late last week with the entity most responsible for the proposed district.

The following questions and answers are excerpted from this interview with Taxosaurus Rex and were related to me by Intrepid Reporter herself.

IR: Hello, Taxosaurus Rex. I don't think I've ever heard of you. Do you work for the city or for the interim committee for the proposed Charles Village Special Benefits District?

TR: No, I don't. In a sense, they work for me. In fact, any organization that levies taxes on its constituents works for me.

IR: So you feel that you can answer some questions for us about the proposed district?

TR: Sure. I can answer questions about anything from highway tolls to the lottery.

IR: Great! Tell me, how was the rate of 30 cents per $100 of assessed value arrived at?

TR: I'd like to say that it came from a careful analysis of what services were to be provided, careful costing of these services and then spreading the costs over the property base. I'd like to say that, but it's not quite true. The figure was arrived at because it looked like a number that we could get away with.

IR: So it was pulled out of a hat?

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