Letters To The Editor


December 06, 2007

`Back door' to prison beats revolving door

I carefully read "A `back door' into prison" (Dec. 2). One thing that stood out was that all of the cases presented involved convicted violent criminals who did not serve anywhere near the time that they were sentenced to but were back on the streets posing a threat to law-abiding citizens.

I say that if these former felons are out on probation but have not learned their lesson and are not squeaky clean, they should return to prison where they belong.

In the featured case of Elijah Snow, he was convicted in 1999 of two carjackings and sentenced to 25 years, with all but 10 years suspended.

This means that he could be expected to remain in prison at least until 2009. But in 2006, he was out on the street.

The article also cited the case of Bernard Pratt, who was convicted of first-degree murder in 1997 and sentenced to life in prison, but was caught on the streets in 2005 after an alleged traffic violation.

Another case involved a person who was convicted of second-degree murder in 2005 but got back out on the streets, allegedly with a handgun.

The article seemed to question the city state's attorney's office for using a "back door" to put such people back in prison.

But the system is so broken that the front door seems more like a revolving door that lets convicted felons back on the streets long before their full sentences have been served.

So I applaud the state's attorney's office for using whatever methods it has at its disposal to get these violent people off the streets and back in prison.

Iver Mindel


Public defender knew the law

In Sunday's article "A `back door' into prison" (Dec. 2), The Sun implies that Deborah Spector, an attorney for my office, was unclear on the law and confused in court.

In fact, Ms. Spector was fully aware of the relevant law. That's why she appeared at Elijah Snow's violation of probation hearing after winning his acquittal in the underlying criminal case, following our office's established protocol.

Ms. Spector was not "confused" in court; she was unclear as to whether Circuit Judge John Miller would proceed with a violation of probation proceeding in a case in which our client had been acquitted of the underlying charge.

Judge Miller had never held such a proceeding before, so his views on this matter were unknown.

Many judges find this prosecutorial tool as unfair as our office does and refuse to proceed with these cases.

Before impugning Ms. Spector's professionalism, The Sun could have endeavored to interview Ms. Spector or someone from our office. We were never contacted.

Kirk R. Osborn


The writer is chief attorney for the Misdemeanor Jury Trial and Violation of Probation Unit of Baltimore's Office of the Public Defender.

It's time to repeal sanctions on Iran

Recently released declassified sections of a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate conclude that Iran froze its nuclear weapons program in 2003 ("Iran's work on bomb has halted, report says," Dec. 4).

This "new" revelation completely contradicts unsubstantiated accusations from the Bush-Cheney administration that Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

Common sense and decency dictate that the current sanctions put in place to punish Iran for pursuing a nuclear weapons program should immediately be rescinded.

Michael J. Marsalek

Bel Air

Democrats too late to force withdrawal

The Democratic majority in Congress is a day late and a dollar short in its efforts to hold war funding until a timeline for withdrawal is established ("GOP seeks to settle budget," Dec. 4).

For years, the gross ineptitude of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war was manifest. That was the time to force change.

But now, things appear to be working in Iraq. Maybe it is peace without reconciliation, but in a relative sense, it's still peace.

Credit the surge or not - that makes no difference. Iraq appears to be achieving some kind of equilibrium.

We should accept the development of this equilibrium; we should support it and reinforce it. It is a uniquely Iraqi solution to an Iraqi problem.

We should not abandon it and destabilize it with a precipitous withdrawal of troops.

The Democrats in Congress are too late.

The facts on the ground have changed. We're finally winning the war.

James Horchner


Same-sex couples aren't outsiders

The letter "Same-sex marriage adds a paltry sum" (Dec. 3) is as mean-spirited as it is ignorant.

The writer clearly sought to equate gay couples, many of whom have been together in faithful and committed relationships for many years, to members of "unconventional groups" such as bikers and witches.

He claims that while bikers and witches who visit return to their homes outside the state, gay couples who would come to Maryland to marry would stay here.

His implication that Maryland would be worse for the inclusion of these couples is mean-spirited condescension.

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