Letters To The Editor


August 14, 2006

Support Saar's focus on updating prisons

The recent murder of correctional officer David McGuinn at the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup and the stabbings of two other correctional officers at the same facility in March are disturbing and require careful analysis of staffing patterns and operating procedures at the prison.

That analysis should not, however, become simply an attack upon Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Mary Ann Saar, who is a highly qualified and experienced corrections administrator ("High-level changes possible in prison system," Aug. 8).

The safety of correctional officers and inmates in Maryland's prison system is of crucial importance. But the ratio of correctional officers to inmates is only part of the solution to the safety issue ("Assaults on jail guards doubled," Aug. 9).

The rehabilitation programs supported by Ms. Saar are also of crucial importance.

Merely warehousing inmates without any substantial effort to prepare those inmates for successful transition back into the community upon their release breeds a sense of hopelessness that can explode, and has exploded, into violence.

Ms. Saar needs the support of the legislature to continue to bring the Maryland prison system into the modern age.

Richard C.B. Woods


The writer is a lawyer for the Office of the Public Defender for Baltimore.

Don't blame system for murder of child

I would like to express my dismay at the media, especially the liberal Sun, for projecting the idea that the alleged murder of Irvin J. Harris by Melvin L. Jones Jr. was somehow the system's fault for not giving Mr. Jones help when he asked for it ("Yearning boy, troubled man," Aug. 6).

It is not the system's responsibility to counsel criminals out of doing what they shouldn't be doing in the first place.

Prisons are places to house criminals. They are not meant to be rehabilitation centers.

When are we going to start holding the criminals responsible and stop looking for scapegoats?

And if we had stopped giving them free passes by granting them early parole, Irvin J. Harris might still be alive today.

Damon Costantini


Why can't the city take Rochambeau?

The Sun's article "Grant sought to clear block" (Aug. 5) indicates that the city of Baltimore is prepared to use a "quick take" process to acquire, against the church's wishes, the Temple of God church in the 1800 block of North Durham St.

The city's argument is that acquisition and demolition of the church and turning the property over to a private developer serves a public purpose.

Yet the article "City says hands are tied in demolition decision" (Aug. 8) regarding the plans to raze the Rochambeau Apartments mentions City Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano's belief that the city's interpretation of a federal law banning restrictions on the use of religious property appears to leave the city no choice but to grant the Archdiocese of Baltimore's wish to demolish the building.

But why can't the city "quick take" the Rochambeau and turn it over to a developer who will restore it?

Isn't maintaining the integrity of the historic district a valid public purpose?

Is the issue with the Rochambeau related to the separation of church and state or to the political power of the religious congregation which owns that building?

Bill Gasser

Ellicott City

Church should value all of city's heritage

The architectural heritage of Baltimore should be precious to all of us, including the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

But while, on one hand, the Archdiocese has spent millions to restore Benjamin Latrobe's great Basilica of the Assumption, it also appears to be determined to raze the century-old Rochambeau Apartments ("City says hands are tied in demolition decision," Aug. 8). I find this ironic.

A prayer garden is not what we need on that site.

I hope instead to see the continued presence of the Rochambeau, an elegant building which city officials and many of us in the city cherish and wish to see preserved.

Janet Heller


The writer is a former board member of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation.

Wind turbines pose a gauntlet for birds

In Western Maryland in early August, it was hot and humid and still. I know. I was there.

I also know that wind turbines do not produce electricity unless the winds are blowing. So I am glad that the Public Service Commission (PSC) has not yet approved the proposal for more wind power turbines on Western Maryland ridges ("Wind energy push loses power," July 31).

The industry tends to exaggerate the benefits of wind power and minimize the damage these turbines can do. But the benefits of this project would be infinitesimal.

The turbines that the developer proposes would produce less than two-tenths of 1 percent of the power used in Maryland. And this power will be available only when the wind blows.

But the potential damage from this project is dramatic.

In spring and fall, these same mountaintops are used at night by the migrating song birds and bats of North America.

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