Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 27, 2004

State's system of mental health needs scrutiny

Reporter Walter F. Roche Jr.'s article regarding the unnecessary incarceration of James Dunkes might be considered hard to believe ("Charges dropped yet held 6 years," May 21).

The man was kept hospitalized for more than six years because he was considered delusional because he believed that the charges against him had been dropped. But his claim was actually a factual statement that the hospital failed to verify.

One might consider this an aberration, an unfortunate exception, but the experience of many in the mental health system is one of a great power disparity.

Not only does the stigma of being labeled mentally ill render the person voiceless, but it relegates the Supreme Court's Olmstead vs. L.C. decision demanding minimal restraint of the mentally ill to secondary concern.

We, as a society, should not be tolerant of any abuse of power against citizens in our health care system.

Spring Grove Hospital Center's failure in this case leads us to wonder if appropriate oversight mechanisms are in place.

We invite the General Assembly to consider oversight regulation that would ensure that the constitutional and human rights of those in the Maryland's mental health system are protected.

Michael A. Susko

Baltimore

The writer is president of an advisory board for the Maryland Disability Law Center.

Suspend gas tax to cut fuel costs

While the Democrats argue about releasing oil from the strategic petroleum reserve and the Republicans argue that doing that won't make a difference ("Bush rejects calls to release oil from strategic reserve," May 20), I believe that a more rational method to lower gas prices would be for the federal government to suspend its gas tax for the next few months.

President Bush should put this idea before Congress for an immediate vote, and for the American people's sake, Congress should enact it within a week.

Robert Fustero

Silver Spring

Demand decency from our soldiers

Cal Thomas' simplistic denouncement of "politicians and feminist activists" is hardly surprising ("Sexual politics and the breakdown at Abu Ghraib," Opinion * Commentary, May 19). However, I found it interesting that such a staunch defender of the military would imply that our soldiers cannot be trusted to conduct themselves in a professional manner.

Mr. Thomas blames recent charges of rape in the ranks on faulty liberal reasoning that "the powerful sex drive can be controlled and made irrelevant in the pursuit of military objectives."

Imagine. Professional men and women being asked to keep their biological urges in check as a condition of their employment.

Moreover, Mr. Thomas faults those who would require professional conduct as "people who think the military is just one more sociological playground that can be changed into something it isn't." Are we to assume that a certain level of depravity is required for the military to remain strong?

Blaming unacceptable conduct in the military on unnamed liberal or feminist scapegoats does both the American people and our military a great disservice.

I, for one, would like to think that our brave men and women in uniform are up to the task of conducting themselves with decency and professionalism.

Martha Bishai

Towson

Anti-Bush director gets too much credit

Leave it to the French to give Michael Moore a standing ovation for his anti-Bush film.

And leave it to The Sun to picture the bloated, braying filmmaker on the inside front page ("Sun News Digest," May 23) as if this were a bona fide news story, rather than put it in the "Arts & Society" section where it belongs.

Rhonda Altice-Jackson

Hunt Valley

Redmer's reminder of Cheney meetings

Thanks for providing information about state Insurance Commissioner Alfred W. Redmer Jr.'s meeting with insurance company executives in the office of a law firm that does extensive work for insurance companies ("Insurer advice asked on laws," May 25).

This kind of meeting reminds me of the now infamous meetings of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force with oil company executives to discuss energy policy.

Niel Carey

Ellicott City

Foster care system failed mother, babies

The child welfare system failed the infant twins whose tragic case The Sun reported last week and it failed the babies' 17-year-old mother, a runaway from the state's foster care system ("City, state grapple over care of family," May 20).

Foster care was meant to be a haven for children to pass through on the way to a healthy, permanent family situation.

Yet too many foster children wait too long for a permanent family of their own. Far too many are unable to be reunited with their birth parents and are never placed with kin or adoptive parents.

Tragically, they often "age out" of foster care - or run away from it - with little or no guidance or support.

This state must invest more attention and resources to finding permanent placements for children in its troubled foster care system before more tragedies occur.

Janice Goldwater

Silver Spring

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