Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

August 29, 2004

County wise to seek alternatives to jail

The Maryland Justice Coalition would like to take this opportunity to publicly commend Carroll County officials for their willingness to explore alternatives to incarceration in lieu of building a new jail.

Between 1990 and 2002, the nation's jail population grew from less than 500,000 to more than 660,000, an increase of more than 40 percent. In answer to this increase, between 1982 and 2001, local expenditures on corrections rose 455 percent nationwide. Given the continuing fiscal challenges of localities, it quickly becomes apparent that local governments can ill afford to keep building bigger jails.

This past legislative session the General Assembly overwhelming passed legislation that will divert more nonviolent drug users from prison and into drug treatment, and the administration is considering other policies that will safely reduce Maryland's prison population.

Across the nation, state governments are abandoning the "tough-on-crime" edicts of the 1980s and 1990s and exploring, with tremendous success, new policies that reduce prison populations, are more cost-effective and that go a long way towards achieving real public safety. It only makes sense that local governments should explore these same options for the benefit of their local communities.

Again, we applaud Carroll County officials for their foresight and we encourage them to keep up the good work.

Towanda Evans

Baltimore

The author is the chairwoman of the coalition's institutional reform workgroup.

Free trade pacts threaten America

As we approach the presidential election date, we certainly find our country facing many challenges.

The Bush administration is planning larger and more destructive trade agreements of the kind that have already ruined our nation's manufacturing base.

Agreements such as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the proposed CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) and FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) are deceptively labeled to mislead the uninformed and misinformed citizens. They promote socialistic bureaucratic controls over free trade, not the free market, and they generally do not lower barriers to American exports except for the export of American capital industry, manufacturing and quality jobs.

As the Christian Science Monitor stated in the Nov. 4, 2003 issue, "NAFTA (forerunner to the FTAA) has displaced American workers and devastated entire towns."

Now we are faced with the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas' power grab. The FTAA will export jobs and import labor. Researchers at the University of California Berkeley's Fisher Center reported in October 2003 that as many as 14 million U.S. jobs were at risk.

President Bush has called for an immigration policy to "match any willing employer with any willing employee." This would flood the U.S. with millions of Latin Americans - from laborers to professionals - willing to come work here for Third World wages.

All these treaties are designed as a precursor to forcing us into a world government controlled by the corrupt United Nations. It is important for concerned citizens to write their representatives and senators to voice their objections to these schemes which would destroy our sovereignty as well as our economic life.

Ruth Shriver

Westminster

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