Better drug treatment might have prevented a mother's...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 28, 2000

Better drug treatment might have prevented a mother's overdose

The recent drug-overdose death of the young Baltimore City woman who left four young children motherless, LaVenia Morrison, might have been averted if the powers that be would realize this area's great need for drug treatment programs ("Grip of drugs seen in woman's death," Sept. 15).

I am a drug counselor at the Baltimore County women's detention center in Towson, and I can tell you this "lock 'em up and throw away the key" mentality is simply not working.

Our jails are overflowing with drug-related charges and convictions. but building or expanding jails is not the answer.

In my five years of experience at the jail, I've found that it is the addict who leaves jail and goes into a drug treatment program who has the best shot at a productive life and at staying out of jail.

I attempt to get such women into drug treatment on a daily basis, and I continually run up against financial obstacles. Yet we're willing to pay for them to sit in jail, be released and go through the cycle all over again.

Treatment works and is much more cost effective than jail.

But now, because this woman didn't have a Social Security card and couldn't get treatment, she is dead and gone, leaving her four children motherless and placing even greater costs on society, in every way.

Let's wake up and see what drug addiction is doing to our city and county -- and understand that there's a better way to deal with this problem.

Kate Bieler

Baltimore

The writer is a correctional addictions counselor at the Baltimore County Women's Detention Center.

Are we becoming inured to the toll of drug abuse?

The horrible death of LaVenia Morrison received little attention in the city's other local news outlets ("Grip of drugs seen in woman's death," Sept. 15).

But here is something to consider: As we as a society become more and more inured to the horrors and the devastation of cocaine, heroin and alcohol, we become more prone to accepting drug travails as just another aspect of everyday life.

Charles Chambers Jr.

Baltimore

Mayor should make revival of Midtown a high priority

The Midtown revival plan should be required reading for anyone who cares about Baltimore ("Unchoking Midtown," editorial, Sept. 19).

This well thought-out document addresses many of the urban ills that have beset Midtown and other areas, and offers a reasonable plan of action -- much of it requiring little cost to the city or state.

As The Sun's editorial noted, traffic patterns must change if the area is to experience a renaissance.

The mayor has a wonderful opportunity here. He has stressed the importance of rebuilding Baltimore's neighborhoods, and he now has on his desk a step-by-step plan to do just that.

He should make the Midtown revival plan an example of what other neighborhoods should do and Midtown's renaissance a cornerstone of his administration.

Stephen D. Sisson

Baltimore

Sentence in Prothero case was much too harsh

I seem to have missed something here: A man commits a robbery and gets life without parole ("Man gets life term in killing," Sept. 21).

It is reasonable, because the crime ended in the death of Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero, that Donald Antonio White should be found legally guilty of murder. But that does not make him literally a killer -- much less a cold-blooded one who must be locked away permanently.

The state seems to have confused its legal ability to impose such a sentence with its responsibility to exercise the same good judgment that White failed to use when he involved himself in the crime.

Joseph Fisher

Baltimore

Don't rely on teen-agers to meet adult responsibilities

The Sun's article "Teens' schedules leave little sleep time" (Sept. 16) again highlighted the fact that teen-agers are different from younger children and adults.

And I am very concerned about our reluctance to move away from a system that meets our adult needs, but not those of our children. Teen-agers should not be "relied on by small businesses and restaurants," nor should they bear the burden of the care of their younger siblings on a daily basis. They aren't parents.

When the current school schedules were established, young adults needed to get home in time to help meet their families' basic needs.

But I would venture that today the majority of teen-agers who work after school today do so to ensure that they have access to a car at age 16, as well as the latest music and clothes. Some teen-agers and their families simply over-schedule themselves.

We need to make the necessary changes in our adult world and provide adequate funding to meet the documented sleep needs need of our teen-agers. We will all benefit in the long run.

Ann McNeil

Phoenix

Enforcing some simple rules can help teen-agers do better

We have a suggestion that will solve the problem addressed in Howard Libit's article "Teens' schedules leave little sleep time" (Sept. 16).

Follow these simple rules:

1. Be at school when school starts.

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