Court wrong to take wife's carLet me get this straight...


March 20, 1996

Court wrong to take wife's car

Let me get this straight, the Supreme Court says a car is ''guilty'' because a man had sex with a prostitute in it? This Supreme Court decision, to uphold a lower court order to confiscate a couple's car without compensating the innocent wife, is ridiculous.

I personally think the Fifth Amendment should be read as prohibiting this sort of uncompensated seizure, but I can see both sides. They might have argued any number of more reasonable ways, but still upheld the ruling.

The car was as much the wife's as her husband's, so they could have given her half the value or even half the value after court costs.

They might have decided that co-ownership has its risks and that the husband owes her half the value for commiting the crime that got the car taken away.

Instead, they came up with the nutty idea that the car is guilty. Are we going to give the car a trial, sentence it to 100 hours of community service and two years of parole?

Crazy rulings such as this, that depend on legalistic twistings of logic rather than sensible consideration of the facts and the Constitution, breed contempt for the law and our legal system.

Carl Aron


Prohibition of drugs won't stop addicts

Paul R. McHugh notes three facts to support his argument against legalizing cocaine (Perspective, March 3), but fails to note the most important fact of all a fact that demands legalization. This is the fact that cocaine prohibition ruins far more lives than does cocaine.

It ruins the lives both of innocent victims and of drug users. It destroys the lives of innocent victims by keeping the price of drugs artificially high, forcing addicts to commit crimes to support their habits and turning the inner city into a place where babies get hit by stray bullets. It destroys the lives of addicts by treating them as criminals instead of as the sick people they are.

Most addicts, even if they support their habits by selling drugs to other adults, are decent, nonviolent people about whom the worst that can be said is that, in the face of poverty and lack of opportunity, they were weak enough to succumb to the temptation of drugs.

They need our help, not prison terms. Dr. McHugh does not once mention prisons. He makes the simplistic mistake of assuming that, if something is bad for us, the solution is to prohibit it.

In this case, however, the solution is worse than the problem. The scourge of drug prohibition is worse than the scourge of drugs.

Henry Cohen


Pub Date: 3/20/96

County must spend more on recreation

I read the March 3 article, ''Bedtime is game time for some youngsters,'' and my only criticism is that it didn't really go far enough in describing the difficulties under which many of the recreation councils in Baltimore County operate.

In the search for areas to cut government expenditures over the past decade, Baltimore County has quietly made significant reductions in its spending for recreation. For the upcoming fiscal year, recreation will again take almost a million-dollar reduction in spending (from about $9 million to $8 million). These reductions will almost exclusively affect staff in the recreation office and programs, which means residents will have to pay more money for services at many recreation councils if those services are to be maintained at present levels.

The recreation programs provided by the individual councils in Baltimore County today are almost entirely supported by volunteers and operated through fund-raisers and registration donations. The county supplies recreation leaders at major centers, funds for field maintenance and public facilities. Uniforms, referee/umpire fees, balls, nets, bats and other equipment expenditures are paid for exclusively by the individual councils and are not supplemented by tax dollars.

Since the county adopted a recreation delivery strategy that relied primarily on public school facilities for fields, courts, etc., the recreation programs in many densely populated areas are suffering from a lack of available space. Space is used without rest, almost to the point of abuse. Many areas designated as ''open spaces'' in the county are not really open to the public for use, which further aggravates the statistical allocation of population to park land for planning purposes.

If the residents of Baltimore County want places and programs for themselves and their children, then they must become more pro-active in establishing this need as a priority with their elected officials.

Many community residents become very emotional at the suggestion of lighted fields that extend the effective time that fields may be used, particularly in the fall. It is a sad commentary on the current state of affairs that we can find ways to finance a $200 million stadium for the NFL but cannot find the space and funds to support and improve year-round programs for our youths.

These recreation programs and activities, beyond the innumerable volunteer hours that are supplied by dedicated residents, are not free for Baltimore County residents. While the recreation councils carry on the standard day-to-day operations, major county support for the facilities needed to conduct these activities is desperately needed.

Fred Metschulat


The writer is president of the Towson Recreation Council.

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