O'Malley is right to push forcefullly for judicial...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 05, 2000

O'Malley is right to push forcefullly for judicial reform

In his recent column, Douglas Colbert seems to take offense at the tirade Mayor Martin OMalley threw to push judicial reforms in an effort to make Baltimore a safer place (Discourse, not displays, on justice, Opinion Commentary, Feb. 24).

Scapegoats in the judiciary arent what Mr. OMalley is after. Changing a system that is, plain and simple, not working appears to be the mayors goal.

This is a goal everyone who lives and works in Baltimore shares.

Surely there will be problems with any changes to the institutions and agencies responsible for administering justice and making Baltimore a safer place. These problems will have to be addressed.

More important, the city wants someone to hold people accountable.

While Mr. Colberts suggestion that we consider Bostons alternative model for addressing violent crime is worth consideration, I think he missed the message of the people of Baltimore.

Martin O'Malley did not.

Richard P. Krueger Jr., Linthicum

Chief Judge Martha Rasin evidently needs an answer to the question: What exactly is a minor crime? (O'Malley, Rasin at odds on district court reform, Feb. 24).

I think we can safely start by excluding from minor crime the citys 300-plus murders per year, as well as the round-the-clock firefights and bloodshed that define the anarchy of O'Donnell Heights, Belair-Edison and Sandtown-Winchester.

At a time when Baltimores de facto logo has become the chalked sidewalk silhouette of another dead youngster, Ms. Rasin throws a fit because the mayor says our court system is dysfunctional.

It seems to me Mayor Martin OMalley was being polite in the extreme. The thugs on the corners call our system a joke. Unfortunately, they have a stranglehold on a reality that the judge somehow missed.

This mayor was elected by an outraged citizenry. The outrage will continue unless we focus on guns, violence and repeat offenders with a system of judicial triage.

Charles V. Lord, Baltimore

The Sun did a fantastic job with its concise editorial on the judicial roadblocks facing Baltimores new mayor (Judges must join city justice reform, Feb. 25).

It is obvious the current judicial process has failed; its time to try something else. Holding hearings in the central booking facility 24 hours a day, seen days a week is something new -- and should be implemented immediately.

The 300 plus murders is only the tip of the crime crisis facing the city. Countless other crimes also plague this city.

This needs to be fixed. The judges must remember that this is not a political game. They must put the people of Baltimore and Maryland first.

Improvements in the judicial system should ensure that criminals get speedy trials, that witnesses can participate with little lost time and that violent criminals get put away.

Only then will Baltimore residents truly be free.

Matthew McOsker, Baltimore

Scorecards could make judges more accountable

One of Sgt. Bruce A. Protheros colleagues asked who the judges are accountable to.

The judges could be accountable to the voters, if The Sun provided day-to-day coverage of the criminal courts that is similar to what it gives to the local ball clubs.

Each judge should have a box score, with daily and cumulative totals. Since it isnt possible to report everything, The Sun could ask readers for suggestions on what the most important indicators are.

Because courts might not provide these statistics, data could be gathered by students under the supervision of professors of public administration, political science, sociology and criminal justice

Later, The Sun could offer box scores for each prosecutor, public defender and police commander.

This routine daily dose of facts would heighten citizen interest and involvement in public safety.

Can you think of a more fitting memorial to Sergeant Prothero?

Thomas E. Coates, Baltimore

Attorney General Curran should go after the judges too

My compliments to Gregory Kane for showing up our state Attorney General J. Joseph Curran as a weak do-gooder, when a tough act is required on violent criminals (Liberals continue their dash from liberty, Feb. 26).

Instead of worthless attacks on decent, gun-owning citizens, I suggest Mr. Curran follow the example of our mayor and go after our complacent judiciary.

Kestutis Chesonis, Baltimore

Are citys PAL Centers a proper police function?

In the current dispute over closing several PAL centers, arent we overlooking something obvious?

Baltimore has two distinct and pressing needs: for an effective police force and for a well-run after-school program.

The latter is not a police function; we need the police in the roles for which weve paid to prepare them.

Increasingly, cities are realizing, as The Suns editorial Mayor must keep PAL programs going (Feb. 10) pointed out, the urgency of establishing high-quality recreational, social, athletic, arts and tutorial programs that operate after-school and on weekends.

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