Providing alternatives to help offenders find a better...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 11, 2000

Providing alternatives to help offenders find a better way of life

We commend The Sun's editorial endorsing Operation Safe Neighborhoods ("Neighborhood can keep hope alive," May 30). The Open Society Institute-Baltimore is pleased to be a funder for this program, which enables communities to hold offenders accountable and simultan- eously offer them a chance at a better way of life.

Operation Safe Neighborhood has already achieved its initial goal, to encourage collaboration and cooperation between law enforcement agencies to improve their crime fighting.

But there is still much to be done to strengthen the second part of the initiative, which offers young offenders an opportunity to access community resources, such as job training or drug treatment.

Mainstream organizations, including churches and social service providers, need to aggressively reach out to broaden the resources available in the community for young offenders.

This will take time, perseverance and coordination among government and nonprofit social service agencies.

Through Operation Safe Neighborhood, Baltimoreans are saying that behavior that violates community values is unacceptable but that we can help show young people a better way.

For this effort to be effective, we need to put the same energy, attention and resources into creating access to real alternatives as we do into imprisoning people.

At the end of the day, we want to be able to point to people whose lives have been turned around, as well as to chronic offenders whom we have put away.

Aurie Hall, Baltimore

The writer is program officer for the Open Society Institute-Baltimore.

Does anyone remember the murder victim?

Congratulations on the success of The Sun's efforts to save Eugene Colvin-el from the horrors of the death gurney.

Some might think a simple needle-stick, sleep, release from the body and mind that have served him so poorly and taking his chances with God a more humane punishment than another quarter-century in a maximum-security prison.

But clearly Mr. Colvin-el himself does not think so.

Will The Sun now call upon the governor and Cardinal William H. Keeler to proclaim a statewide and church-wide day of remembrance and celebration for the life of Lena Buckman?

Hal Riedl, Baltimore

If he might be innocent, why jail Colvin-el for life?

If The Sun and Gov. Parris N. Glendening, as they have both stated, believe there is not sufficient, convincing evidence that Eugene Colvin-el committed murder, why are both merely in favor of commuting Mr. Colvin-el's death sentence to life imprisonment?

My understanding of the law is that if any reasonable doubt exists, the defendant should go free.

Obviously, the truth is that the rationale stated by The Sun and elaborated upon by Mr. Glendening is a sophistry.

The truth is obvious. Neither the paper nor Mr. Glendening truly believe Mr. Colvin-el is innocent. It remains merely that they are against the death penalty.

The Sun and the governor ought to be less flexible with the truth.

If they believe that a reasonable doubt exists about his guilt, they must declare themselves advocates of freedom for Eugene Colvin-el.

Douglas B. Hermann, Baltimore

The governor's comments in commuting Eugene Colvin-el's sentence were incomprehensible.

Sure, he should have commuted the sentence. But the governor succumbed to The Sun's arguments ("Capital case filled with doubt," June 4), questioned the judicial system, and acted as a judge, jury, defense attorney and prosecutor.

In this capacity, Mr. Glendening committed a graver error than all the errors in Mr. Colvin-el's trial put together: He condemned a man to life imprisonment whose only proven crime was pawning watches he found at the scene of a crime.

Peter C. Sotiriou, Baltimore

Softer on criminals, but tougher on guns

Way to go, governor. We need to be softer on a convicted murderer and commute his sentence, while we get tougher on law-abiding citizens and commute the Second Amendment.

Michael Mandis, Baltimore

Given the MSPAP pressures, cheating comes as no surprise

Despite denials from the state education system, the wonder is why no one realized that the MSPAP tests, with all their attending pressures, were an accident waiting to happen ("Potomac school mired in cheating," June 2).

The surprise is that a major cheating incident took so long to surface.

McNair Taylor Baltimore Call unlicensed cabbies what they are: illegal hackers

On June 1, in the Police Blotter, The Sun again made reference to an "unlicensed taxi driver."

There is no such thing as an unlicensed taxi driver. A taxi driver, as such, is licensed and drives a legal taxicab licensed by the Public Service Commission of Maryland.

Illegal drivers are dangers both to the passengers they transport and to themselves. They should be referred to by their proper name: illegal hackers.

Clay Seeley, Owings Mills

The writer is president of Resisterstown Cab Inc.

Redeeming the incarcerated isn't the calling of Christians

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