Letters To The Editor


April 14, 2003

More context could clarify prison crisis

The article "Nation's inmate population passed 2 million mark, Justice Dept. says" (April 7) does a very good job outlining the staggering numbers of individuals behind bars in America.

However, it does not explore the possibility that one of the reasons the number of convicts at the federal level is increasing is that, where it is at all possible, states are shifting the burden of incarceration to the federal system.

Also absent is some sense of the number or proportion of individuals who are incarcerated at minimum, medium, maximum and supermax prisons. This last statistic may be an indicator of how punitive our prison systems have become.

And finally, perhaps the most important missing piece of information is some indication of the number of people who are arrested, convicted and given some sort of community correctional sentence.

This information would help provide the necessary context for understanding our current prison crisis.

Jeffrey Ian Ross


The writer is a professor of criminology at the University of Baltimore.

Overstating threat to our civil liberties

I can appreciate Michael Olesker's concern about civil liberties being taken away, but I think he went a little overboard ("Count your remaining liberties at the next security checkpoint," April 10).

Having to go through metal detectors and having our knapsacks or pocketbooks looked through hardly tramples our civil liberties.

As for the FBI being allowed to infiltrate places of worship, I say, why not? If people are plotting against our country in a church, mosque or temple, we should have the right to gather evidence from that place of worship.

The bottom line is that if you're not doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about.

Jeffrey Ashton


Obstructing Ehrlich isn't a winning hand

I could not believe it when The Sun named state Sen. Brian E. Frosh and House Speaker Michael E. Busch as "winners" in the 2003 legislative session and the governor as a "loser" ("Assembly ends with fiscal crisis unresolved," April 8).

The two "winners" were obstructionists who tried to stop the governor from passing the agenda he ran on and was elected on. Mr. Frosh stopped the governor's Project Exile bill. Mr. Busch would not let the full House vote on the governor's bill to allow slot machines at Maryland racetracks.

The governor's slots bill passed the Senate and was supported by both the state comptroller and the superintendent of schools. But the speaker, for purely political purposes, did not allow the citizens of Maryland to have their full House of Delegates vote on one of the centerpieces of the governor's agenda.

All the speaker was interested in was continuing the tax-and-spend practices that put our state into the worst fiscal mess in its history.

G. Stuart Lacher


The voters are tired of spending spree

The Sun takes the General Assembly and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller to task for not respecting the voters' wishes on moving the date of the city's primary election ("Disrespecting the voters," editorial, April 10), but glossed over the arrogant House Speaker Michael E. Busch and his utter disdain for the voters' desires on slots. What unmitigated gall.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. had two mandates from the voters - slots, here, now and forever; and no tax increases, period.

We are tired of irresponsible spending and no accountability. I hope Mr. Ehrlich will stick to his principles and cut the budget instead of raising taxes.

Sharon Porter


Sunday hunting bill is a modest reform

I must comment on the response of Michael Markarian, the president of the Fund for Animals, to the Sunday deer hunting bill ("Sunday deer-hunt bill in Ehrlich's hands," April 8). He states: "This bill thumbs its nose at the overwhelming majority of Maryland residents who do not want Sunday hunting. Hunters already have six out of seven days during hunting season. It's an issue of fair use."

By this logic it seems that, to be fair, hunters should be able to use the land seven days a week, all season long just as the other land-users can. But this bill only addresses two Sundays a year and is restricted to limited counties and private land.

I also question who Mr. Markarian's "overwhelming number" of Marylanders are. Every non-hunter I have asked about allowing Sunday hunting has either had no opinion or favored it.

Tim Wist


Nothing surprising about U.S. victory

Paul West writes, "U.S. forces wrenched Baghdad from the grip of Saddam Hussein's regime with surprising ease" ("Iraqis flood streets to greet U.S. troops" April 10).

I disagree. It was not "surprising" that the strongest, most warlike of nations overwhelmed a nation, about the size of California, that had already been humbled by 12 years of U.S. bombing and sanctions.

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