Letters To The Editor


July 20, 2004

Let's eliminate all the reasons for petty crimes

The Sun's editorial "Criminal citation don'ts" (July 18) includes the following paragraph: "Police should enforce the nuisance laws. These crimes may seem petty, but they affect how we live, where we live and how we feel about where we live. Prostitutes under street lamps. The stench of urine in alleys. Knots of men parked on stoops. Shattered liquor bottles littering sidewalks."

Wouldn't it serve society a lot better if we were to concentrate on eliminating the cause of such petty crimes?

Why should we criminalize prostitution?

Who would urinate in alleys if we made sanitary toilet facilities available for all?

Why would able-bodied men congregate on stoops if we had federal jobs and job training programs reminiscent of the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps camps of the 1930s?

Why would any such folks be made into felons and enslaved to their drug pushers if we treated addiction as the sickness it is and took out the profit motive by providing their medication under a system of national health insurance?

But as far as the "shattered liquors bottles littering sidewalks" and streets, I'll go along with arresting the knuckleheads doing that.

A. Robert Kaufman


`Quality of life' plan boosts downtown

Regarding The Sun's article "`Quality of life' crime plan splits police, prosecutors" (July 12), it should be noted that the enforcement of "quality of life" laws has been quite successful in downtown Baltimore.

Downtown has long been one of the safest areas in the city. What little crime exists tends to be of the nuisance variety, such as public urination, aggressive panhandling or illegal vending. While these crimes are not violent, they can create the perception that downtown is unsafe - a perception that could adversely affect downtown's 90,000 workers, 7,500 residents and 22 million annual visitors and the region as a whole.

In response to numerous community requests, officers in the downtown area of the Baltimore police's Central District began receiving special training on nuisance laws from the Baltimore state's attorney's office in 2001 and have been aggressively enforcing those laws ever since.

In addition to providing the training, the state's attorney's office has become more conscientious about bringing nuisance cases to trial, and district court judges have become more sensitive to the needs of the community when sentencing for these offenses.

To show ongoing support for quality-of-life laws, businesspeople and property owners participate in the Downtown Court Watch program, donating their time to attend trials and offer a community impact statement after a defendant is found guilty.

Downtown stakeholders strongly support the aggressive policing, prosecution and sentencing of quality-of-life crime violations.

The success of these efforts downtown is a prime example of how responsive the police, prosecutors and courts can be when the community becomes actively involved.

Kirby Fowler


The writer is president of the Downtown Partnership.

DiBiagio is right to fight corruption

After reading of the demand by Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Isiah Leggett, that Maryland U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio resign, I have only one question for Mr. Leggett: What are you hiding ("Democrat demands DiBiagio resign," July 16)?

Mr. DiBiagio understands that elected officials are in a position not only to break the law but to cover up their wrongdoing. Therefore, to uncover and prove criminal deeds by elected officials requires extraordinary efforts.

I, for one, would like to thank Mr. DiBiagio for his tireless efforts to rid Maryland of corrupt elected officials.

Martie A. Silvert


Avoiding the NAACP to please the right

It appears that Gregory Kane is correct in that President Bush had nothing to gain and plenty to lose if he spoke before what was likely to have been a hostile audience at the NAACP convention ("Bush has plenty of reasons to turn down the NAACP," July 14).

But this calculation was less about being confronted by hostility than about shoring up his political base, which is, by and large, not supportive of the NAACP or its members.

Steve Charing


Blair shows the way to take responsibility

What a good reminder we saw last week when British Prime Minister Tony Blair accepted responsibility for the intelligence failures that helped lead us into the war in Iraq ("Iraq intelligence seriously flawed, British panel says," July 15).

Mr. Blair understands that the chief executive bears ultimate responsibility for the actions of his government. As such, he gets credit for good things and blame for bad ones.

The current U.S. president could and should learn from the example of Mr. Blair. President Bush continues to take responsibility for good things only. If anything goes awry, he goes to great lengths to find someone to blame.

Michael Baker


Study of Iko's death serves the public

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