What's wrong with crime and punishment?Andy Gardener's...

the Forum

October 26, 1994

What's wrong with crime and punishment?

Andy Gardener's Oct. 12 letter asks, "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?"

This is a good question to ask of our legal system.

In the same edition there is a front-page article entitled, "Shooting of youth called a result of frustration."

Nathaniel Hurt tried to make his East Baltimore community a better place. One afternoon a group of teens pelted Mr. Hurt's car with rocks and broke the windshield. The youths left and came back an hour later throwing bottles at Mr. Hurt's property . . .

Mr. Hurt came out onto his second-floor fire escape and fired shots into the crowd. One teen was hit and died.

Mr. Hurt was held without bail and criticized by the police for taking things into his own hands. Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier was quoted as saying, "People need to be confident that law enforcement will get there in time to deal with neighborhood issues."

If people are to believe this statement, why is it that repeat offenders are out on the streets or given light sentences, while first-time offenders are taken to jail and not granted bail?

Our criminal justice system seems to be lenient on multiple offenders and to treat first-time offenders with harsh sentences. The point is, when will criminals be held accountable for their actions and made to pay for the crimes they commit?

Doreen R. Chiariello


The top layer of the Hurt-Holmes tragedy is obvious. What is not so obvious are the hidden layers.

This tragedy points up the price and unlevied tax that the citizens of this state are paying when police services and youth services are reduced or cut.

I would like to think that this tragedy wouldn't have occurred if midnight basketball were available, or if Vernon Holmes' parents ''gave a damn'' about where their son was and what he was doing, or if the police department could increase the officers available for patrol or the juvenile justice system served society.

Another possible solution might be term limitations. If politicians didn't devote so much time to their re-election campaigns, they would have more time to listen to the citizens and address the problems they were elected to solve.

E. David Silverberg


VLO power

Voters, use your VLO (Vote Liberals Out) power to derail the Moving to Opportunity and similar runaway programs.

But we were told by our elected officials that we have no say in the matter, as in "the program is already in place." Wrong!

When the heat was turned up, look how quickly our out-of-touch representatives high-tailed back to Washington and halted further MTO funding.

True, as a taxpayer you have no voice. But in the voting booth you do.

But wait, my granddaddy voted liberal for 50 years. And my union endorses them.

Yes, the liberals originally represented the working person, but now their first priority is the non-working recipient.

I purposely didn't suggest which party to vote for, however, because nowadays there are elephants camouflaged as donkeys and vice versa.

How can voters distinguish between a true conservative or liberal?

Easy, watch who endorses the candidate. And if you prefer or reject the views of the endorser, vote accordingly.

Frank A. Sume


Costly beacon

I was pleasantly surprised to read about the downtown beacon that will cast a light show over Baltimore beginning on New Year's Eve.

I was under the impression that our city still had crime, education problems and the sixth worst air in the country. I was obviously mistaken, since the state can afford to spend $341,000 on a big flashlight that will attract visitors to our city.

Why can't the potential visitors just use a map like everybody else? What will these beams attract? Star Trek conventions?

I can't remember the last time I was at Harborplace and not approached by a panhandler. Were these people hungry and homeless, or were they saving up to buy postcards that feature the World Trade Center?

It is a shame the harbor wasn't illuminated this way during the War of 1812; our national anthem might have rhymed more often if Francis Scott Key could have seen better.

John C. Parry


Dim lights

For a least three reasons, I think it is a bad idea to install high-intensity, exterior spotlights on the World Trade Center.

As one who does "street corner" astronomy in downtown Baltimore, it will make it more difficult for me to offer the public looks at the planets, Moon and stars through my telescope. We were given eyes to see the heavens above, not xenon spot lights.

I personally believe that, if only in a small way, a lit-up night sky contributes to the social anxieties of modern society.

Seeing a dark sky full of stars at night somehow has to enhance the quality of our lives and bring us a degree of tranquillity which we otherwise miss out on.

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