Letters To The Editor


December 21, 2007

Abuse allegations driven by politics

For more than two years, I have sat quietly and not gone public in any forum about the events that unfolded in Northwest Montana in December 2005 ("Check all references," editorial, Dec. 14).

But with my decision to resign last week from the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, I have now lost two positions over this issue, even though all the allegations were expunged from my record.

The report issued by the Department of Public Health and Human Services in Montana states that I not only committed multiple acts of child abuse but also allowed one of my staff to operate a reign of terror and intimidation during my tenure.

Yet this same agency gave my facility a 100 percent compliance rating in all audits.

Moreover, my program received full audit approvals and accreditations from the American Correctional Association and the U.S. Department of Justice.

As part of these audits, youths and staff were interviewed by regulatory officials. There were 84 staff members and 90 youths in my program, and not a single allegation of abuse was made to any official.

I have a 15-year record of excellence in the juvenile services industry. It was this record that led Maryland Juvenile Services Secretary Donald W. DeVore to hire me.

This incident was never about "checking references," as The Sun's editorial suggested. All my references were outlined on my state job application. DJS could have gone back 15 years and found multiple people to attest to my skills.

This incident was about politics.

Gov. Martin O'Malley and Mr. DeVore are attempting to overhaul a system that needs major repairs. Unfortunately, many people's careers are predicated on the system remaining dysfunctional.

I fully support Mr. DeVore and his administration as they move forward.

Their goal is simple: to improve the lives of kids.

I wish that this were the goal of everyone involved in this affair.

Chris Perkins


The writer is a former director of detention for the Department of Juvenile Services.

Let independents vote in primaries

It is disingenuous and hypocritical for some Maryland politicians to fight for the right of 17-year-olds to vote in a primary while ignoring the disenfranchisement of registered but independent voters from those same primaries ("Young-voter-policy talks set," Dec. 18).

I and other independent voters never get to vote in Maryland's primaries.

If we insist on restoring the voting rights of 17-year-olds in Maryland primaries, the same rights must be given to all registered voters.

With independent voters beginning to outnumber registered voters of any party, this is becoming a necessity.

Otherwise, the word "democratic" will no longer apply to our political system in Maryland - and it should be supplanted by words such as "selective dictatorship" and "partisan fiat."

What are the political parties afraid of?

Steve Frost


Iraq is wrong place for so many troops

The Sun's article "Afghan strategy reviewed" (Dec. 16) notes that the reviews of strategy in Afghanistan are not expected to result in an "infusion of combat forces, mostly because there are no U.S. troops readily available."

Of course there aren't. They are all tied up in the senseless and needless quagmire in Iraq.

If we had instead committed the 160,000 troops we have in Iraq to the war on our real enemies - al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the country that gave sanctuary to the 9/11 attackers - those enemies would now be defeated and pacified.

And our chances of catching Osama bin Laden would have greatly been increased - which could have allowed us to legitimately claim victory in the "war on terrorism."

How about we transfer most of the troops from Iraq to the real and justifiable war in Afghanistan and finish the job?

Harry Bennett Jr.


Treatment can cut link of drugs, crime

Near the end of his column "Making drugs legal not a fix, say ex-users" (Dec. 12), Jay Hancock responds to comments about the inability of drug legalization to solve problems associated with illegal drug use from recovering addicts at Man Alive's Lane Treatment Center by saying, "Any nation trying it would encounter devilish complications."

Switzerland has proved that this statement is not necessarily true.

Through their current Heroin Assisted Treatment program, the Swiss have drastically reduced drug-associated crime, reduced new addiction and positively increased the health and social situations of heroin addicts.

The program has made dramatic changes in the relationship of drugs to crime.

While the proportion of patients who obtained their income from illegal or borderline-illegal activities at the time of enrollment in the program was 70 percent, that figure declined to 10 percent after 18 months of the HAT program.

There are alternatives to drug prohibition, and I hope that Mr. Hancock and The Sun will continue to cover this issue.

Allan Erickson

Eugene, Ore.

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