Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 30, 2005

Fund treatment, not prison cells

The Sun's recent article on the lack of long-term, in-patient drug treatment slots for court-referred defendants raises some profound questions about where Maryland will get the millions it needs to fund an effective drug treatment strategy ("Md. faulted for lack of drug treatment," Oct. 24).

Of the almost 5,000 drug prisoners in the state, 70 percent are estimated to have a drug addiction problem, which often causes them to cycle in and out of the system for petty drug offenses.

Maryland spends $100 million a year imprisoning drug offenders. Treatment for these individuals would be more effective, both fiscally and in the interest of public safety.

Under the state's current sentencing system, low-level drug dealers receive the same sentence as dealers who sell 100 grams of a drug.

If sentences for low-level dealers - people primarily dealing to support their own habits - were reworked, millions in correctional spending could be freed up to fund drug treatment.

A recent poll showed that by almost a 7-1 ratio (73 percent to 11 percent), Maryland voters believe drug treatment is more effective at stopping people from using drugs than prison is.

The state should make whatever reforms are necessary to find the resources needed to fulfill the public will on drug treatment.

Jasmine L. Tyler

Washington

The writer is research director for the Justice Policy Institute.

Historic tax credits boost revitalization

Readers of "Pair challenges how trust defines `historic'" (Oct. 25) should keep in mind that the Maryland Historical Trust has approved more than 1,000 tax credit projects in the state, and this is the first time that someone has sued over a denial. This tax credit program is fueling the resurgence of our city's neighborhoods.

The Maryland Historical Trust is charged with determining if each project meets the guidelines for gaining the credit.

I have found the Maryland Historical Trust's process for proceeding with successful tax credit projects to be well-defined and reliable.

Success hinges upon applying for the tax credit and getting plans approved prior to beginning construction.

The formal application allows the Maryland Historical Trust to determine if the project meets the guidelines - as it interprets them for that particular project - and to tell homeowners which parts of their plan they need to change to meet the guidelines.

The homeowner can then choose to make those changes and take the credit - or proceed with their renovation in any way they wish and not take the credit - before the renovation is under way.

Jennifer Goold

Baltimore

The writer is a historic preservation tax credit consultant.

Nothing `artificial' about Iraq deaths

Texas Sen. John Cornyn was quoted as saying, "Of course we grieve over each one of those losses, but [2,000 U.S. deaths in Iraq] is an artificial number that some are using to try to undermine support for our effort there" ("Iraq's dual milestones," Oct. 26).

As someone whose grandson was stationed in Iraq for a year, I know the stress and worry we, as a family, suffered each day, wondering if he would return safely.

When his company was reportedly under fire, we waited to see if the casualties and deaths would hit our family.

Our sense of almost guilty relief was compounded because we knew that another family had suffered a tragic loss.

There is nothing artificial about 2,000 deaths.

Miriam Zadek

Lutherville

Hunting just part of natural balance

I cannot bear the thought of agreeing with a Republican, but Tom Pelton's article about Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s bear hunting season makes it clear that hunting is part of the balance of nature ("Md. bear season begins today," Oct. 24).

The environmentalists' solution is ridiculous.

If it were possible to get everyone to throw away trash in an environmentally responsible way, the rat population would have died out a long time ago.

Denny Olver

Baltimore

Sauerbrey's talents can help the needy

As U.S. representative to the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, Ambassador Ellen R. Sauerbrey helped pass U.N. Resolution 58-142.

The resolution urges countries: "To promote and protect the right of women to associate freely, express their views publicly, openly debate political policy and petition and participate in their government at all levels, including in the formulation and implementation of government policy, on equal terms with men."

Ms. Sauerbrey's detractors at home, and those who oppose her appointment as assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, are exercising the very rights of freedom of expression that Ms. Sauerbrey advocates for women around the world ("Friends of Bush," editorial, Oct. 24).

Such liberties are rarely found elsewhere, yet they are essential for women to have equality and to empower them to exercise choices to improve their lives.

Ms. Sauerbrey knows that women across the globe face life-threatening and inhumane conditions daily.

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