State should shut troubled facility for juvenile...


November 12, 2001

State should shut troubled facility for juvenile offenders

I agree wholeheartedly with Tara Andrews' call for closing the troubled Victor Cullen Youth Academy ("State must address festering juvenile justice problems," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 1).

Marylanders were shocked this year by allegations that staff at the private, for-profit facility had set up "fight clubs" between youthful residents at Victor Cullen, arranging battles between the youths for the staff's entertainment.

As in the scandals concerning Maryland's boot camps and the deteriorated conditions at the Cheltenham Youth Facility, Maryland's citizens learned once again that youths sent to our state's facilities are entering a Lord of the Flies atmosphere, from which they often emerge worse rather than better.

To its credit, the state's Department of Juvenile Justice closed the boot camps and announced the pending closure of Cheltenham.

Now, with state budget cuts looming, the state should also close Victor Cullen, using half of the facility's $9 million budget to establish programs for youth and half to pay the Department of Juvenile Justice's share of cost-cutting measures.

Vincent Schiraldi


The writer is president of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

Don't let politics block improved airport security

As a citizen and a frequent flier, I am appalled that petty politics has been allowed to stand in the way of establishing a uniform federal air security service.

A federal security service could be trained to screen packages and people - in short, to be another line of defense. In addition, such security personnel could enforce Federal Aviation Authority rulings such as the "one piece carry-on" rule, which truly needs more enforcement.

When will our representatives have the courage to do the right thing regarding critical issues that impact all of us?

The events of Sept. 11 should have taught all of us that a pluralistic society that espouses liberty and freedom comes with a price - one that may include a surcharge for every ticket.

Short-term, politically expedient decisions that result in $6 per hour jobs are not the answer.

Vincent Diaz


Proposed tax cuts show need for campaign reform

Government of, by and for the people is challenged by the House's 216-214 vote for a bill that would plunder the Social Security Trust Fund of billions to return to big business what it has paid in alternate minimum taxes on profits since 1986.

The Senate can and must do better than to follow the Bush mantra of more tax-cutting atop the disastrous $1.3 trillion cut previously voted. A prudent Congress would roll that back to resume paying down the $4 trillion national debt.

Republican congressional thralldom to big-bucks contributors calls for campaign finance reform now to recover for the American people a Congress in tune with public concerns.

Edwin Schell


Find a way to keep school at basilica open

Jacques Kelly's article on the closing of St. Alphonsus-Basilica School should encourage the Archdiocese of Baltimore to reconsider its decision ("School's days dwindle," Nov. 4).

One almost cannot believe that the archdiocese's spokesman really said, "The school is simply not worth the expense." What expense could possibly be more worthy than providing an education to inner-city children?

The $2 million to make repairs and fire-safety upgrades is a fraction of the cost of a new school.

The archdiocese deserves enormous praise for the many fine inner-city schools it operates. I hope it can find a way to keep this school operating.

John C. Murphy


Increasing our taxes wrong way to handle crisis

The writer of the recent letter "Levy the taxes needed to pay for war, security" (Nov. 6) asks Congress and the president to raise our taxes and "put our taxes where our mouth is."

The writer should speak for himself - and put his money where his mouth is.

I can safely say that most of us feel we pay more than enough in taxes.

What we need is a little more fiscal prudence and responsibility with our tax dollars by both Congress and the president, and also our state and local governments.

Ron Parsons

Glen Burnie

No `Zionist project' explains Mideast violence

I find it astonishing how much misinformation The Sun allows to be published in the guise of commentary. The column from the president of Palestinian Media Watch was a prime example ("Sharon, `Zionist project' impede Mideast peace," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 6).

Facts were completely misrepresented with a clearly inflammatory goal in mind: to sow the seeds of hatred and divisiveness between the American government and Israel and between Israel's supporters and Palestinian sympathizers.

There is not and never was a "Zionist project" or any type of Zionist expansionist plot. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has no interest in taking over Arab lands and creating a "Greater Israel." This is blasphemous rhetoric that unfortunately gains some credibility when you publish it and, repeatedly, other nonsense like it.

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