Virginia deals with crime more firmlyTwo adjacent states...

the Forum

July 28, 1995

Virginia deals with crime more firmly

Two adjacent states both have voted in new administrations: Virginia and Maryland. Virginia's new governor, George Allen, has declared an all-out war on crime, especially in regard to repeat offenders.

According to Governor Allen, three out of four violent crimes -- murder, armed robbery, rape, assault -- were being committed by repeat offenders.

Governor Allen's answer was to set up a commission on stronger measures of punishment for violent crimes, which recommended requirement for offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before parole.

Also sentences for violent offenders are being lengthened. The Virginia prison population is expected to double by the year 2005, and a construction program is planned to build the necessary prison space.

Maryland, on the other hand, is not inclined toward any get-tough on crime policy. Instead, Maryland is considering what former Del. Timothy F. Mahoney calls alternatives for jail.

Four million dollars from the Maryland prison construction fund was diverted to pay for the creation of a committee called Maryland's Correctional Options program.

According to Maryland Public Safety Secretary Bishop L. Robinson, "We have to think about what the American people really want. They favor a balanced approach: prevention, treatment as well as punishment.

"It's common sense. Why should we fill up the jails with individuals who are drug dependent and committing crimes because they are drug dependent?"

The difference between these two approaches is striking. Virginia is listening to the people and providing for their public safety, whereas Maryland is sticking its head in the sand until the effects of crime eat at the very heart of our society.

The people of Maryland may decide that come the next election they will finally vote in a different administration committed to providing for the people's safety.

Michael J. Davis


Power Plant ideas

Unfortunately, the city administration has run aground again regarding our Power Plant. I have two suggestions.

The first involves the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. Let's entice them to set up shop in our city, dig up their exhibits in hiding in their basement and put them on display in our Power Plant -- memorabilia on industry, transportation, medicine or maritime would be especially appreciated. Charging no admission fee would be an attraction in itself.

The second idea, first part, is new. Let's blow the building up. We have a white elephant on our hands and it is costing us plenty.

The second part of this idea is especially attractive. Let's provide a dry dock arrangement for a refurbished Constellation.

I still think the old ship is a good tourist attraction. In such a setting, the old ship would need less maintenance.

If additional space is available around the ship, let's create our own little "Mystic Seaport Town" of maritime stores, antiques stores, shops and restaurants.

As my patrol leader in the Boy Scouts used to say, "Let's not stand there, do something productive."

It's about time.

Don Laird


No swimming

This is to the people who broke into the Walter P. Carter Recreation Center swimming pool during the night of July 13.

I don't know your reasons for breaking into the pool and vandalizing it. You even tossed the pump into the water. I don't know your anger or your sense of fun, your need for risk or perhaps even for getting caught.

I only know that 50 children, ages 5 through 12, attending the summer program at All Saints Lutheran Church were extremely disappointed when they arrived at the pool but were told we could not swim.

We were expecting 100-degree temperatures with high humidity and looking forward to getting wet, having fun and feeling refreshed. Instead, we were more than just hot; we were disappointed, cranky and let down.

How sad it is that we want what we want and seem to care little about others and what they want.

How sad it is that we sometimes feel we must ruin things that give others enjoyment.

How sad it is that we often feel we must engage in destruction, to feel we have made a statement or accomplished something.

I would simply ask you to think of your little sister or brother and how hurt they might be if all the amusements that give them joy were destroyed. And think about how you would feel because you want your sister or brother to have some appreciation for their growing-up years, to enjoy being children in the summer when the temperature reaches 100 degrees and all you want for them is to have fun.

Please think about it and remember that others are affected by your actions; perhaps even others that you know and love.

Rev. Laura Ingersol


Sentenced to death by AIDS

Lifestyle is Sen. Jesse Helms' criterion for care of AIDS patients. Is his above reproach?

Has he ever drunk to excess, spoken ill of a person, taken something that did not belong to him, spoken foul language, used government money for personal expenses?

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