Letters To The Editor


May 19, 2006

Monitor confirms abuse of juveniles

When I read The Sun's recent articles about the horrible conditions and behavior at Maryland's juvenile jails, my heart sank ("`Don't touch me. Get off my stomach,'" May 11).

My son was taken briefly into the care of the Department of Juvenile Services late last year, during the same period that the latest independent monitor's report covers. I now see that the stories I have been told about the system weren't exaggerations or one-time incidents - the state's own monitors report that they saw the same things and worse.

How can children learn self-control and respect for others when the adults the state pays to care for them instead order them to beat up on each other?

Who thinks they can teach these youngsters basic life and hygiene skills when there aren't enough socks, underwear or even soap to go around?

And how can anyone even try to make excuses for making a child sleep with his pillow next to the base of a toilet?

My child was one of many who had to be sent far away from home because the community-based options that state leaders have been promised for years still don't exist. It sure seems that there aren't any proper facilities elsewhere, either.

These aren't bicycles or radios we're fixing here. These are young, growing people.

We in Maryland should be trying to help them grow into productive, happy people. Instead, it seems like we're training them to get worse.

I'm glad these independent monitors are allowed into the juvenile facilities.

I wish they were there every day and every night. I wish they were allowed into every place our children are sent, not just the places run directly by the state.

They are the only way I'll know what is really going on.

As a parent, I want to know. As a voter, I need to know.

Edwina Nesiba


Mentally ill need shelter from streets

I applaud The Sun's coverage of Fells Point resident Mike Sibert, whose untimely death has brought some needed attention to the plight of those people who are homeless and mentally ill ("A voice silenced," May 9).

However, let's not believe that Mr. Sibert's situation is unique - there are many individuals who are living on the streets in Maryland (not just in Baltimore, mind you) who suffer from serious mental illness.

Many more live on the brink of homelessness or cycle in and out of it.

This is no way for people to live - homelessness is a social disgrace, for all of us.

This society is capable of better than that, and we should demand better.

The next time we talk about moral values and the sanctity of life, let's talk about Mr. Sibert's life and about implementing solutions to homelessness.

It's long overdue.

Barbara DiPietro


The writer is a member of the Maryland Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Legislative leaders aren't serving public

Both chambers of the General Assembly are stuck in a quagmire of politics. Over the last four years, each has failed to act on legislation that would have benefited Marylanders.

The speaker of the House and the president of the Senate seem to be determined to remove the Republican governor even at the expense of the well-being of their constituents.

These two individuals have acquired far too much power.

The slots bills the legislature has never approved would have given an infusion of needed money to the state's general fund, and the lack of a resolution to the electricity rate increases will negatively impact millions of people.

New leadership is desperately needed in the legislature.

The old machine is worn out and is hurting our state.

Charles L. Leight


Standard tests yield inconsistent results

In a discussion of school improvements in "Schools mark end of deficit by repaying city $8 million" (May 11), reporter Sara Neufeld writes, "Maryland school systems use a different standardized test now than they did in 2000, and experts caution against comparing the results of different tests."

While I understand the point, it seems to undermine the entire reason for standardized testing.

If proficiency on one "standardized" test does not equal proficiency on another, just what do we think we are measuring?

Eric Rice


Vaccine won't cover all the cancer cases

As an internist and patient empowerment expert, I wanted to thank The Sun for educating readers about the pending vaccines for human papilloma virus (HPV) and the continued need for screening for cervical cancer ("HPV vaccine nearing approval," May 11). However, I feel its important to educate women about all their screening options, because the Pap smear alone is not enough.

As The Sun's article correctly notes, the vaccine protects against only the 70 percent of cervical cancer cases caused by two strains of HPV, which leaves 30 percent of these cases out of reach. Thus for the foreseeable future, millions of women will have to look elsewhere for protection.

And even though the Pap smear does detect precancerous cells, multiple studies have shown that the Pap smear alone isn't foolproof.

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