The state's handling of juvenile offenders generates no `crisis'
David Nitkin inaccurately uses the term "juvenile justice crisis" in his analysis of the supposed political fallout from The Sun's series of stories on Maryland's handling of incarcerated youth ("When kids get hit, a candidate is bruised," Dec. 2).
The Sun uses incident reports that are, with one exception, 1 to 2 years old. We now know there were 24 reported and proven cases of abuse by guards out of 7,140 juveniles in the system last year. That means 7,116 minors, or well more than 99 percent, had no such problems.
This might be a crisis if the abusers weren't disciplined. But highly respected Maryland law enforcement figure Bishop L. Robinson, who runs the Department of Juvenile Justice, says in every case those responsible were fired, quit or suspended without pay ("State doesn't tolerate abuse of the youths it holds in custody," letters, Dec. 2). Most of them are gone.
Additionally, it might be a crisis if the state turned a blind eye to problems. But, as The Sun has reported, in each case it was the state and its employees who uncovered the abuse, investigated the charges and handled them quickly.
In fact, the reporting of this "crisis" reveals a very small number of incidents, a system that responds efficiently and a policy intent on improving.
Leadership can never promise a problem-free environment, especially with potentially violent teen-agers. What it can provide, and what Sun reports reveal but don't emphasize, is a solid program intent on doing things right and punishing those who don't, be they inmates or guards.
Success in cutting crime is reason to trust Townsend
The Sun has ignored an important aspect of the juvenile justice issue: that the lieutenant governor is responsible for all of the state's crime policy, a visionary policy that has proven extremely effective.
The facts confirm it. Juvenile crime is down 22 percent since 1996. Violent crime is down 18 percent since 1995. Drug use by participants in Ms. Kennedy Townsend's "Break the Cycle" program is down 55 percent since 1998. Gun-related violent crime is down 26 percent. And violent crime in Hot Spots is down 21 percent since 1997.
The reality is that our lieutenant governor's record on crime and juvenile justice is very strong indeed. She has earned our support and trust on this issue, so let us be fair in our accusations and patient with our judgments as her policies settle into the entire criminal justice system.
State's former first lady would be a fine governor
I thought the column by Joseph R. L. Sterne, former editorial page editor of The Sun, which suggests that Frances Glendening would be an excellent candidate for governor of Maryland, had a lot of merit ("An ideal candidate to revive Md. GOP," Opinion Commentary, Dec. 10).
Where do I send my check?
Don't exempt U.S. citizens from war crimes tribunals
In The Sun's article "American captured fighting for Taliban" (Dec. 4), Duke University law professor Madeline H. Morris says of a 20-year-old turncoat, "... as a U.S. citizen, he would be an unlikely candidate to face an international war tribunal."
What is it about being a U.S. citizen that disqualifies one to stand trial in an international court of law?
As a U.S. citizen, I think all people who commit war crimes ought to be held accountable, and not just those who have the bad luck not to be American. Don't we believe in justice for all?
Ashcroft is wrong: Dissent is patriotic
I find the comments to Congress by our smug and arrogant U.S. attorney general most troubling ("Ashcroft rebuts Senate critics," Dec. 7).
For John Ashcroft to suggest that those of us concerned about safeguarding our civil liberties and freedoms are aiding and abetting terrorists is indeed insulting. Perhaps if the Afghan people had championed their own liberties, the Taliban would not have come to power.
The Constitution has not yet been suspended, and until it is, we have the right and duty to question our public officials.
Marc A. Miller, Sr.
After listening to U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft speak before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I understand why the people of Missouri voted for a dead man and not Mr. Ashcroft.
The man's arrogance knows no bounds. He has all the answers and will tolerate no dissent -- which is necessary in a democratic government -- of his policies, and has the audacity to accuse the people who disagree of aiding the terrorists.
This man must be replaced for the good of the United States, and our freedoms.
M. V. Runkles III
Paranoia guides critics of tribunals
Civil libertarians are protesting military tribunals for foreign terrorists and murderers. Their minority opinion argues that tribunals would violate the "rights" of foreigners -- who are not entitled to equal protection under the Constitution.