Suicide shows failings of jails for juveniles I find...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 22, 2002

Suicide shows failings of jails for juveniles

I find the Maryland correctional system pathetic. A system that should, ideally, rehabilitate offenders and return them to society is instead contributing to their demise. The March 14 suicide death of a 15-year-old girl at the Waxter Center in Laurel is a glaring example ("State agency faulted in death," April 13).

Regardless of this child's behavior, which may have been a result of the mental illness for which she was being treated, the facility's guards behaved entirely inappropriately. Had they paid notice to her threats and acted as any reasonable person should, the young woman might still be alive.

With proper short- and long-term care from a psychiatrist, she may have been able to return to a normal and productive life once released.

Instead, she suffered enough emotional anguish to cause her to take her own life.

Now suicide prevention training is again being mandated for facility personnel. It seems to me that prison officials are closing the barn door after the proverbial horse has escaped.

It is a great shame that a girl needed to die as a martyr to the cause of correctional facility improvements before those in charge realized that something was wrong.

Now we can only hope that the system pulls itself together in time to prevent yet another tragedy.

Gregory S. Auerweck

Baltimore

Recent articles regarding the crisis in juvenile justice and the suicide of a teen-ager in a juvenile facility demonstrate that current treatment practices are not working.

Many children and young people in this system have experienced trauma through sexual abuse, physical abuse or as witnesses of domestic or street violence.

Training correctional officers to understand the causes and symptoms of trauma and to use specific questions at intake can prevent suicides, reduce abuse by officers and reduce criminal activity by juvenile offenders when they are released.

Esther Giller

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Sidran Institute for Traumatic Stress Education and Advocacy.

Vote of no confidence for church hierarchy

As a lifelong Catholic, I am outraged at the stonewalling by the pope, cardinals and bishops on complaints of sexual abuse of children by some perverted priests.

This arrogant behavior is irresponsible and unacceptable. The Catholic hierarchy has proved itself to be a self-serving good old boys' club. I vote no confidence.

How many parishes will close so the church can afford to pay hush money to victims? Change is long overdue.

Every Catholic mother should voice her outrage over the current scandal. To let the situation continue and say nothing is a sin of omission.

Stephanie Town

Landenberg, Pa.

Methadone clinics endanger seniors

The Baltimore County government kept the proposed methadone clinics in Pikesville under wraps until planning had moved along quite a bit. It was obvious that bringing hardcore addicts into the area would not be met with enthusiasm by area residents ("Bill would block drug clinics near residences," April 2).

At times, extensive projects have been scrapped when some species of endangered animal was found in the vicinity. The large number of senior citizens who live in close proximity to the proposed clinics are starting to feel they are an endangered species also.

Up to now, we seniors believed our protection was a priority because of the vulnerability of advanced years. But now there may be more reasons for us to look over our shoulders while we are still able to move about our neighborhood.

Stanley Oring

Pikesville

How to succeed in African business

Thank you for the interesting and balanced editorial "Africa's powerhouse" (April 8). I would add the success stories of South African telecom companies Vodacom and MTN, which brought voice, Internet and fax services to millions of Africans who previously had to walk many miles to the nearest telephone.

South Africans are succeeding in Africa simply because they are willing to travel in Africa and base their businesses on what others would call "thin markets."

Nic du Toit

Ellicott City

Criticism of Israel betrays hypocrisy

When the United States was the victim of terror on Sept. 11, the world lined up with this country to take a stand against terror wherever it may occur. This country invaded a sovereign nation and killed and injured individuals, both innocent civilians and those who allegedly committed, planned or aided terror attacks. This brought very little protest in the United States or the world.

On the other hand, when Israel, which has been combating terrorism for more than 50 years, takes similar actions to prevent further terror against its population, the response from the world is outrage. The United Nations, the United States, Russia and the European Union all called on Israel to withdraw its forces from its war on terrorism.

It is obvious that the world employs a double standard when it comes to Israel. It's all right for the United States to defend itself against terror, but not Israel. What hypocrisy.

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