Public safety, youths brutalized again by juvenile...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 28, 2000

Public safety, youths brutalized again by juvenile injustice

The Sun's article "Young lives return to a vortex of crime" (July 16) ought to make every Marylander ashamed and outraged.

After being continuously brutalized by staff of Maryland's Department of Juvenile Justice, 14 pathetic youths have been savaged once again. The public has also been brutalized by the coarse negligence of the governor and lieutenant governor, as well as the director of that agency.

After The Sun reported that most of these delinquents were back on the street, dealing and using drugs and getting into serious trouble, how dare Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend refuse to comment on the plight of these youths?

She and other state officials owe taxpayers an explanation for why these children, still on probation and under supervision of Juvenile Justice, were never contacted by officials.

While several boot camp staff members were removed, mistreatment and neglect of these youths on the street continued.

How dare Gov. Parris Glendening's spokesperson say: "We never saw this as being about 14 kids. This is about an entire system being changed."

Exactly how? Is such a statement plainly stupid or perhaps simply treacherous? How does Ms. Townsend now refuse Sun reporters access to that agency? Perhaps she and the governor should resign.

H.L. Goldstein, Baltimore

I have concerns after reading of the recent actions of the 14 youths of Charlie Squad after state boot camp.

My concern begins with the pizza man terrorized with a knife to his throat, and extends to the second pizza man robbed, the auto theft, assault, armed robbery and attempted murder -- for which the perpetrators have paid little consequence.

My concern also is for the lack of accountability on the part of the elected officials, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who decided to release these delinquents from boot camp. Under their watch, the boys returned to crime, suffered minimal consequences and victimized others.

How can we hold juveniles accountable for their behavior when the two adults who released them into society refuse to face the press and the people of Maryland to be held accountable for the decision?

How dare these officials refuse to discuss the situation. I want to hear, and the victims deserve to hear, that officials made a bad decision, follow-up was nonexistent and that the problems with these boys are being corrected immediately -- while the overhaul of the system itself is under way.

Patricia K. Wajbel, Phoenix

I commend reporter Todd Richissin for his July 16 article on the horribly dysfunctional Maryland juvenile justice system. There is no greater problem in our state than the reduction of crime. There is also no better example of the ineptitude of the Glendening administration than its inability to do so.

According to the story, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend "bills herself as the governor's point-person on criminal issues, [but] now says she won't discuss Charlie Squad or the department."

The administration's solution is to ram through a 16-percent budget increase for the department this year. In the real world, one doesn't throw more money at a problem until a strategic solution is well thought out and implemented.

It is time for Maryland to have leadership that is willing to tackle these types of problems head on and not duck reporters' questions when concrete answers cannot be formulated.

Replace the Glendening-Townsend duo, and get effective leadership to help all Marylanders live in safety and peace.

Thomas M. Neale, Baltimore

Marriage tax penalty real, affects all income groups

The Sun's stand on the marriage penalty tax is misguided at best ("Political tax cuts endanger surpluses," editorial July 24). The editorial assumes that this tax is not a penalty, affects mainly the rich and that any such tax break would be fiscally irresponsible.

The tax affects everyone who gets married. An unmarried couple who live together and earn a combined income of $35,000 to $40,000 will pay less on their taxes because each partner has a separate individual filing status. If they get married, they will pay $1,000 to $1,500 more in taxes. The IRS justifies doing this because marriage is considered to be the pooling of financial resources, which creates a larger taxable income.

Marriage is the excuse for the IRS to legally combine the income of a couple so it can be taxed. To get married is to pay more for the privilege of doing things that most couples did before they got married. Sounds like a penalty to me.

Fiscal responsibility is more than the mere act of cutting taxes. The government will have a surplus as long as it can increase taxes. The government needs to streamline itself, hold its programs and bureaucracies responsible for their spending habits and make cuts when necessary.

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