Family mediation helps in break-upsThe Feb. 12 article...

LETTERS

February 25, 1996

Family mediation helps in break-ups

The Feb. 12 article, "In custody disputes, mediation taking off," was well written. And mediation is indeed the most efficient way of addressing custody and visitation disputes.

Fathers United for Equal Rights of Maryland commends Francine Sigai and the staff of the Custody and Mediation Division of the Baltimore County Circuit Court. Her patience and commitment to the best interests of the children enables her to facilitate agreements every day.

Mediation of custody and visitation issues is a very hopeful sign. Many people look for ways to leave a mate that they care about but no longer wish to live with without tearing each other apart.

Unfortunately, lawyers often perpetuate win-lose scenarios. The court system is an adversarial process where pain and anger are the prevailing emotions. Mediation is an alternative to courtroom battles. It is a forum where two people can come together and work toward an agreement on custody and visitation matters.

Rachmiel Tobesman

Randallstown

4 The writer is state president of Fathers United.

Funerals are big business

Joe Mathews' article (Feb. 5) on the funeral industry explores just the opposite of that in Suzanne Loudermilk's (April 25) ''Discount funerals are becoming more popular.''

One must concede that greater corporate profits must be made in order to meet the enlarged payroll of participating mortuaries, executive staff and stockholders.

Mr. Mathews' quote of Todd Berko, PaineWebber analyst, ''because there is money to be made,'' tells it like it is.

Paying more does not ease the pain and only subsidizes greater profits while depleting the financial resources of the mourning family.

Jay Cherry

Towson

Buchanan supporters described as forgetful

Many call Pat Buchanan an extremist.

William Bennett, a former secretary of education, Lamar Alexander's campaign manager and an extremist in his own right, calls him a "fascist."

It shouldn't be just Mr. Buchanan's views on isolationism, restrictive trade, restrictive social and political rights that earn him such venom from all but his supporters. His "America First" theme happens to be the same name used by the fascist sympathizers in pre-war America that supported Germany and Hitler.

This isn't ironic. It's simply a sign of an uneducated, forgetful or all-too forgiving population.

Myles B. Hoenig

Baltimore

Decline and fall with stadiums

The position of the best newspaper in Maryland on the Great Stadium debate is noted with shame.

Continued support of the two stadiums recalls the days of the Roman Empire on its way to decline.

OC These football circuses will certainly do as much for Maryland.

Paul R. Young

Kensington

Prison reform answers not easy to find

The Feb. 11 column by Barry Rascovar, "Prison reform that undermines itself," was insightful and perhaps sobering for Maryland taxpayers.

As a 16-year ''veteran'' of the Division of Corrections and one of the last college graduates, I feel it is important to articulate a parallel and slightly differing view from the inside.

I witnessed the fiasco that was due to former Prison Secretary Gordon Kamka's attempt at progressive rehabilitation. There were only 8,700 prisoners then, so one would think managing them would have been three times as easy as today. There were GED, vocational and college programs as well as self-help groups run by outside volunteers. There was a sense among inmates that they could grow, learn, change and have a successful life.

There were bad apples, though, who messed up and single-handedly sent Maryland down the Draconian path of prison construction and pure punishment that has led the state to the crisis it finds itself in today.

Mr. Rascovar states that some criminologists feel that a policy that locks up major offenders for long periods while lesser offenders spend less time creates a system that is budget-driven rather than public safety-driven. This presumes that the experience of the lesser offenders (who are by far the majority) passing through the system at a faster pace for less time will effectively keep them from reoffending.

This seems unlikely since the very programs, and the only ones, that actually lower recidivism, i.e. education, are being cut in a foolishly short-sighted manner. Unless those factors that led these Marylanders to be ''lesser offenders'' are addressed, they will remain continuing lesser offenders or became major offenders.

I am housed with a majority of ''lesser offenders'' at the training center in Hagerstown. Most are either ''too fresh from the street'' or too close to going home to be concerned with becoming rehabilitated. Most will be back. This policy then is neither budget driven nor public safety driven but will be continuous crisis management, the worst possible scenario.

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