Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 11, 2006

Report documents sad state of city kids

I appreciate The Sun featuring the front-page article and photos Saturday describing the inhumane conditions under which 144 youths are held in the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center ("Center endangers juveniles, U.S. says," Oct. 7).

The state Department of Juvenile Services' defense against charges that it has failed - it claims it has improved juvenile justice by closing most of the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School and reducing the number of youths at the Cheltenham Youth Facility - is an insult to those of us who care about and work to protect children in this state.

Yes, the department has closed some obsolete facilities - but without planning for their replacement.

I estimate that about one-third of the youths detained at the city juvenile justice center have been tried and are awaiting transfer to out-of-state facilities.

Even after they have been accepted by programs in Pennsylvania or Iowa, they often wait months "pending placement" in the detention center for the bureaucratic approval of their placement, which is overseen by the Governor's Office for Children and Youth.

A facility not equipped to do its job treating and educating children for 30 days is not going be able to keep them safe penned up for months.

But neither candidate for governor has any right to attack the other about the Third-World conditions many of our city's children live in.

When families break down, there is no safety net for the children, just the street corners, where they find some acceptance and a few dollars; the schools, whose failings are so accurately depicted on HBO's The Wire; or the foster care system, which has to beg for every dollar from this wealthy state's budget.

The state of Baltimore's children is a disgrace, and there is more than enough responsibility to go around.

Linda Koban

Baltimore

The writer is assistant director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Baltimore.

Murphy no friend to victims of crime

William H. "Billy" Murphy Jr. tells reporter Sumathi Reddy, "I base my decisions on what I view to be the best interests of black people and women" ("Of independent mind in law and Md. politics," Oct. 9).

Some of us have noticed that most of the crime victims in Baltimore are African-Americans.

As an attorney, Mr. Murphy has spent a great deal of his career putting some of the worst predators in the black community back on the street.

He has championed the worst members of the black community against the youngest, the oldest and the weakest.

Consulting Mr. Murphy about crime is like consulting the Taliban on the subject of religious toleration.

Hal Riedl

Baltimore

The writer is a volunteer for Mayor Martin O'Malley's gubernatorial campaign.

Law doesn't prevent vote for D.C. delegate

We are glad to see that Steve Chapman recognizes the injustice of 600,000 Americans in the District of Columbia being deprived of a vote in Congress ("Two wrongs and no right for D.C. voters," Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 4).

But he is incorrect in his assertion that legislation now moving forward in Congress to provide such representation is unconstitutional.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has said it does not have the authority to require voting representation for Washington, the court did affirm that Congress has such authority.

There is no constitutional barrier to Congress moving ahead on this legislation and giving Washington citizens a voting representative in Congress.

Edwin H. Davis

Washington

The writer is vice president for research and policy of Common Cause.

Nation's new `gods' undermine morality

In his column "In a society purged of morality, what's scandalous about Foley?" (Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 4), Cal Thomas raises serious questions about the contemporary concepts of morality.

While I agree with him about the amorality of 21st-century society, I think he misses a significant point. The moral climate of America (or lack of it) is indeed theological: It is a direct reflection of our new gods and goddesses.

For we in the United States worship at the feet of the god called "free speech" and the goddess of "individual rights."

We see examples of their worship in government, law and advertising. Songs are sung to their praises. Movies are made about their heroes. Politicians invoke their names - sometimes in quiet reverence, sometimes in ecstatic euphoria.

We send missionaries to the unenlightened masses - sometimes they look like apostles or ambassadors of good will, sometimes like armies.

Everything is now subject to this new god and goddess. Nothing can be done or said that would call them into question.

God (the old God) forbid we should ever challenge their power and authority. We would be fired, untenured, not re-elected, and castigated by the press and the law.

So what if the result is chaos, child killing (particularly in schools), child pornography and violence?

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