More treatment is a better way to stop the scourge of...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 24, 2001

More treatment is a better way to stop the scourge of drugs

If approved by the legislature, Gov. Parris N. Glendening's proposed $22 million increase in state funding for drug treatment will ultimately save Maryland money ("State offers more funds to treat addicts," Jan. 16).

The "Land of the Free" recently earned the dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world, with drug offenses accounting for the majority of federal incarcerations.

At an average cost of $25,071 per inmate annually, maintaining the world's largest prison system can hardly be considered fiscally conservative.

Numerous studies have found that prison transmits violent habits rather than reduces them. Most non-violent drug offenders are eventually released, but with dismal job prospects because of their criminal records.

Rather than waste resources turning potentially productive members of society who use drugs into hardened criminals, we should fund cost-effective treatment.

It's time to rethink the failed drug war and treat all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public health problem it is.

Robert Sharpe

Washington

The writer is a program officer for the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes alternatives to the war on drugs.

The promise from the governor of substantial increases in state funding for drug abuse treatment is good news for the citizens of Maryland.

Every addict who can be helped to become drug-free in the community rather than being locked up in prison would save taxpayers around $20,000 a year.

Many of them (not all) will be able to hold down jobs or to be more productive in the jobs they now have.

And reducing the market for illicit drugs makes more sense socially and economically than pumping billions of dollars into our perennially failing war on drugs.

Reduce the demand, and we may not have to spend so much to cut the supply.

Edward Muhlbach

New Freedom, Pa.

Sectarian prayers made Bush inauguration divisive

As conservative Jews, we found the deliveries by the clergymen who gave the invocation and benediction at the presidential inauguration disconcerting.

We refer to the references to the Holy Trinity by Rev. Franklin Graham and the phrase "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" in the concluding prayer.

During the weeks following the election, President Bush, the media and leaders in both political parties stressed the need for citizens to pull together for the health of our nation. Yet, instead of providing us with non-denominational prayers supporting the theme of unification, these clergymen demonstrated a partisan approach to prayer.

References to the Holy Trinity and Jesus are certainly not non-denominational.

We can't help but wonder how these prayers would have sounded to Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman had he been standing in place of Dick Cheney.

Sondra Steinberg

Sy Steinberg

Baltimore

Will someone please explain why President George W. Bush, who purports to unite this country, had his reverend friend from Texas deliver a benediction that was exclusive rather than inclusive?

Why did the clergyman's concluding prayer invoke the name of Jesus Christ? By doing so, it excluded a large portion of the population of our country.

If you are of the Buddhist, Muslim or Jewish faith you suddenly felt left out.

The presidential oath of office ends with "so help me God." The reverend should have followed this example.

Barbara Blumberg

Baltimore

Bush was right to dump Chavez

Normally, I agree completely with Tony Snow, but I take exception to his column "Deserting Chavez showed weakness" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan 16). President George W. Bush made one of the best decisions by deserting Linda Chavez.

Mr. Snow asserted "Ms. Chavez didn't break the law. She didn't do anything wrong." I beg to differ. Immigration laws clearly state that harboring an illegal immigrant, helping her remain in the country and find employment is a felony.

Although I consider myself compassionate and conservative, breaking the law is still breaking the law. You do so at your peril and there are consequences.

I fully support Mr. Bush's decision and believe all others who are sick and tired of illegal immigrants sneaking into our country feel the same way.

Rosalind Ellis

Baltimore

Republicans pioneered inquisitorial politics

How ironic to hear the Republicans whine and gnash their teeth about "the politics of personal destruction," when it was they who invented it in the first place.

William Smith

Baltimore

Set-asides for contractors undermine competitive edge

Gov. Parris N. Glendening wants to raise the state goal for minority contracting to nearly double what it is now ("Set-aside goal called too low," Jan. 18). If enacted, this will be interpreted as a quota, and will result in a distinct reduction in the competition for the state's business.

If a group of business concerns finds jobs reserved for it, because of its membership in a class, that group will not find it necessary to compete in the marketplace.

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