To stop drugs, city must adopt new approaches The Sun's...


June 20, 2000

To stop drugs, city must adopt new approaches

The Sun's recent article on the disproportionate penalties for drug offenses to poor, black Baltimore residents raises an obvious question: Why are blacks nine times more likely to be in jail for drug offenses than whites, when whites are five times more likely to use illegal drugs ("Study shows drug effort targets blacks" June 8)?

Most thoughtful people agree that this war is hopeless as it is currently fought.

But so long as we jail only the poor and politically powerless, the powers-that-be will be free to fight the drug war in the traditionally ineffective way.

The Sun periodically reports on stings that arrest suburban drug users. I suggest a continuation of that policy.

Further, I ask that judges be encouraged to levy the greatest possible penalties on suburban users who think it is OK to enter the city to purchase illegal drugs.

The minute we begin jailing white suburban drug users in significant numbers, we can expect to see a dramatic turnaround in policy.

That would include more funds for treatment and follow-up support of users of hard drugs, which is the only long-term solution to this scourge.

Ed Rutkowski


The writer is executive director of the Patterson Park Community Development Corp.

Why can't NSA do the job itself . . .

The Sun article "NSA layoffs to affect 2,000" (June 8) noted that congressional leaders are hailing the National Security Agency's plan to outsource more than 2,000 jobs and turn over the agency's basic computer and telephone functions to private companies.

I find this announcement quite shocking. The NSA is supposed to be an elite organization and has been above congressional audit because its mission is so secret that employees were not to reveal their employers' identity.

It is incredible that now NSA can bring outsiders into its operation because it can't do the job itself, and yet get a pat on the back.

What's wrong with Congress that it doesn't start an immediate investigation to find out why NSA now needs to outsource to do the job its employees have been getting paid very well to do?

Stephen Florkewicz

St. Michaels

. . . and why reveal where that secret agency works?

The Sun has reached new heights in irresponsible reporting -- hard to believe as that is -- in its coverage of the National Security Agency facility in Carroll County ("Cracking a Carroll enigma," June 14).

What purpose is served by that article? In what way does publishing the locations and functions of national security installations serve the public good?

Is it The Sun's intention to compromise the facility and the NSA -- or was the article just sheer thoughtlessness?

Michael Hiteshew


Reading awards can distort the process of learning

As a teacher who formerly worked in a Baltimore City school that participated in the governor's "100 Book Challenge," I read the recent letter about a first-grader who read 1,640 books with a bit of cynicism ("Imposing grand expectations can discourage young readers," June 6).

Children in the lower grades who participated in that program counted 15-minute segments of reading time, not the number of books read. Parents who wanted their children to garner praise and prizes often signed for much more home reading time than was possible.

With all of the emphasis on accountability for teachers and students on standardized tests, I find it disconcerting that students are often given kudos for something they may not have accomplished at all.

What does that teach our children?

While I commend all students who read for information or enjoyment, I believe it should be done for some inherent gain, rather than for prizes.

Kathryn Jenkins


Microsoft's monopoly conceals software's failings

In his column "Microsoft won't change overnight" (June 12) Mike Himowitz stated that "Microsoft's desktop operating systems . . . perform well for most of us."

This is just plain false. They perform as well as people expect.

Every time I introduce a friend of mine to Linux, the first thing that person tells me (besides "this isn't as hard as I thought it would be") is "I can't believe it, it doesn't crash after two days."

We have been dealing with a substandard product for years, and because Microsoft has had a chokehold on the market, we don't even know it's substandard.

John Armstrong


`Mutton-bustin' isn't the best lesson for boys

I must confess that The Sun's June 11 picture of the young cowpoke "mutton bustin'" made more of an impression on me than the much more tragic stories in the day's paper.

Wouldn't it be better to teach young boys compassion for other living creatures who share the Earth with human animals?

Joyce Gorsuch

North East

Laser surgery should be done by a professional . . .

For being one of the "dozen people in the entire United States who hasn't had laser vision correction surgery," Kevin Cowherd sees the situation pretty clearly ("He's studying eye surgery, but he's not a good pupil," June 8).

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