Warehousing youths in decrepit prisons doesn't stop...


January 22, 2001

Warehousing youths in decrepit prisons doesn't stop crime

Vincent Schiraldi's column "Close Cheltenham" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 16) painted a grim picture of what youth confined at the facility experience. Unfortunately, the horrible conditions at the Cheltenham Youth Facility merely reflect larger systemic problems that plague the state's entire juvenile justice system.

Maryland officials have failed to address this issue since 1995, when a state report found that the over-representation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system was a serious problem.

In light of several recent studies finding continued racial disparities in both the juvenile and adult systems, as well as racial disparities in services to mentally ill youth offenders, elected officials must act now.

All children must be held accountable for their actions. However, warehousing youth in an antiquated, crowded facility such as Cheltenham, without adequate programming, is not a viable solution.

We must invest more energy and resources in establishing community-based detention alternatives that include a continuum of care for youth in trouble.

We must rehabilitate, not incarcerate, and the time to do so is now.

Denise West


The writer is vice president of the Frederick County branch of the NAACP.

Let Oklahoma City bomber rot in his prison cell

I am a supporter of the death penalty, but I believe Timothy McVeigh should have his sentence commuted to life without possibility of parole ("Oklahoma City bomber to be executed in May," Jan. 17).

McVeigh is healthy, young and can be expected to live a long time. In isolation from the general prison population, he is relatively safe. I can think of no better punishment than for him to live alone with his evil for the next 40 years or so.

Deny him the easy escape of a painless death and martyrdom. Let him slowly rot in his cell and die a prisoner.

Vince Cappucci


Ashcroft can't be trusted to safeguard our rights

President George W. Bush's choice of John Ashcroft to be U.S. attorney general -- the nation's chief lawyer and principal enforcer of our country's civil rights laws -- could hardly be more out of step with mainstream America.

Mr. Ashcroft has led attempts to amend the Constitution to outlaw virtually all abortions -- even in cases of rape and incest. His record on civil rights is abysmal. And his deceptive and dishonest campaign in the U.S. Senate against the confirmation of Judge Ronnie White demonstrated an appalling lack of integrity.

How can we trust this man to enforce rights and protections most Americans support when he has spent a career trying to undermine those protections?

Omar Siddique

Ellicott City

The mansions of Guilford don't need special tax breaks

As described by Jamie Stiehm, the bid to list Guilford on the National Register of Historic Places sounds like just one more tax grab by the rich ("Man lays groundwork for Guilford distinction," Jan. 15).

Guilford is about the wealthiest neighborhood in Baltimore. And now its residents are looking for a tax break for maintaining and improving their property.

I congratulate Guilfordians on living in one of the most desirable parts of Baltimore. But I don't think they should expect fellow citizens to pay them to live there.

Paul Romney


Including Guilford on the National Register of Historic Places seems to me just another scam by the rich to stick it to the poor and middle class.

Guilford is among the most affluent sections of Baltimore; its residents should keep up their property without special loans and a freeze on property taxes.

If you can afford to live in Guilford, you can afford to keep your property up without tax breaks. Leave them for those who really need them.

C.D. Wilmer


City's `giant wench' is sure to attract some attention ...

Once again, Baltimore is leading the pack when it comes to tourist attractions.

In The Sun's article "Balloon rides set for liftoff in May" (Jan. 12), said the balloon would rise 450 feet above the city "and be pulled back to earth by a giant wench [sic] that would be visible to the public."

I am sure that people will come from miles around to view this "giant wench."

The question is: Will she be happy here in Baltimore without a giant knave?

Frank Dauteuil


I think the giant "wench" that will be visible to the public as the balloon is pulled back to earth will be a bigger drawing card than the ride itself.

D.W. Haun


... but a wheel on the water would pull in more visitors

I read The Sun's article on the balloon lift to be constructed near Port Discovery ("Balloon rides set for liftoff in May," Jan. 12). Can't Baltimore do better?

As part of the 2000 celebrations, Paris re-created the Ferris wheel (La Grande Roue) erected for the 1900 World's Fair. Intended to last for a year, the Roue is so successful that its life has been extended.

The world's largest Ferris wheel -- the London Eye or Millennium Eye ---also built for 2000, is among England's most popular tourist attractions.

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