Saturday Mailbox


December 18, 2004

Right treatment can put juveniles on a better path

I write to support the "Potential model for Maryland" (Dec. 13) discussed by reporter Greg Garland.

The future of Baltimore and of Maryland depend on the state's willingness to think creatively about - and fund appropriately - programs that break the cycle of criminal families.

Surely, many detainees grow up in environments where violent and criminal behavior is more normal than deviant.

Detention in the juvenile justice system, although unfortunate in many respects, presents a vital intervention opportunity. If we do our job right, we can stop the development of an adult criminal.

And while The Sun presents the Missouri model as blessed relief from our current juvenile system, let us not forget that juveniles are also increasingly being tried and incarcerated as adults.

Incarcerating juveniles in adult facilities rather than ones for juveniles has been shown to increase a youth's chances of being assaulted, committing suicide and committing another crime after release.

I do not want my tax dollars used to place children in adult facilities or to place them in juvenile jails that intervene ineffectually.

I hope Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and the legislature will soon move to implement the Missouri model, demonstrating to taxpayers and voters that they are willing to break the criminal cycle by truly treating kids and, moreover, treating them as kids.

Randy Alison Aussenberg


The writer is a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health.

U.S. ties to Canada strong and respectful

Relations between the United States and Canada are excellent, and Jules Witcover is wrong to accuse President Bush of taking "a slap at Canada" during his recent visit ("Good-will ambassador," Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 3).

Mr. Witcover also did readers a disservice by focusing on an insignificant security misunderstanding at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting in Santiago, Chile, while ignoring what the United States and its partners achieved.

The APEC meeting was a great success, and the United States is proud of the role it played in helping the participating economies make progress on several key fronts, including trade liberalization and security.

APEC leaders endorsed new action against corruption and intellectual property rights piracy and approved specific steps to confront terrorism.

Relations between the United States and our northern neighbor are the envy of the world. Cross-border trade between the United States and Canada totals about $1.4 billion per day, and we enjoy excellent cooperation on North American security issues.

Although we might have some policy differences on Iraq, Canada is a key donor to reconstruction efforts in that country. Canada has also played a major role in efforts to bring stability and democracy to Haiti and Afghanistan.

While we may differ over trade issues such as soft lumber imports and mad cow disease, the United States knows a trade dispute that hurts our northern neighbor will also have adverse effects at home.

We are working to resolve these other disputes to our mutual satisfaction as soon as possible.

Respect and mutual understanding have always characterized our relations with Canada, and in my view they always will.

Roger F. Noriega


The writer is assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

Debate state policy on use of public land

After all the recent disclosures about the management of our state public lands - from the list of lands up for grabs, to the almost-sale of land in St. Mary's County to a campaign contributor, to the latest revelation of a lease of state park land for an exclusive $30 million resort-conference-education center on the Chesapeake Bay ("Education center-resort rising quietly at Elk Neck," Dec. 8) - it has become abundantly clear that there needs to be an inclusive public discussion about the future of our state treasures.

Since most of the recent plans have been conducted under the radar of public scrutiny, it is time for a little fresh air.

The public needs to know how many more of these privatization-commercialization projects are being hatched. And we need to have more of a say in the ultimate fate of the lands that have been put into the public trust.

Without a public lands policy publicly aired and embraced by Maryland citizens, these kinds of deals will continue to nibble away at our public open spaces.

Marylanders need to become more actively involved in the stewardship of these lands.

We live in a great state with rare and beautiful places. Let's keep it that way.

Ajax Eastman


Health system needs to insure everyone

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