March 22, 2009

Treatment centers part of the solution

When I read "Group homes stalled" (March 16), I was saddened to see we still don't get it. It appears the city will spend a lot of its scarce dollars to fight against a partial solution to Baltimore's biggest problem - drug addiction.

This makes no sense.

I have worked in the field of substance abuse treatment for the past 37 years, and I know that treatment is part of the solution, not part of the problem.

I suspect many former residents of Baltimore moved away because of violent crime, not because there were too many treatment programs or group homes in their neighborhood. The fact that we have too few places for addicts to get treatment was, and still is, a driving force behind crime in the city.

A great deal of scientific research over many decades has made it very clear that addicts in treatment commit far fewer crimes than those who are not in treatment. If neighborhoods do not have "adequate safeguards" and are "fighting for stability" in this economy, I strongly suggest that we increase the availability of treatment, not restrict it.

We haven't figured out a way to keep the guns out of the hands of criminals or to keep the drugs from crossing the border and finding their way into the fragile bodies of our children.

But we've apparently found a sure-fire way to make it nearly impossible for those dedicated souls who try to help the addicts and alcoholics to open their programs in our neighborhoods.

Am I really supposed to sleep better knowing that at least another group home or drug treatment program won't open my neighborhood?

I don't think so.

Frank Satterfield, Baltimore

The writer is the finance director for an outpatient drug treatment facility.

Investigate how we came to torture

Thank you for your editorial "Using the 'T' word" (March 17). And thank you for describing former Vice President Dick Cheney's attempt at self-justification as "disgusting."

A nonpartisan commission of inquiry with subpoena powers is the best vehicle to learn exactly what happened and when and how we got to that point.

We must have that understanding so we can ensure that we do not repeat such heinous practices ever again.

Certainly it is our shame, too, that Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which permits the use of evidence obtained through torture in military commission courts.

Congress can act to change that law, as President Barack Obama acted with his executive order that banned torture.

Suzanne H. O'Hatnick, Baltimore

The writer is legislative director for Maryland of Amnesty International USA.

A callous effort to drown out pain

Congratulations to Janet Gilbert for the most callous column of the year ("A tune to drown out recession's grind," Commentary, March 17).

Many of us have lost jobs, homes and savings because of the greed and fraud of our leading financial institutions. We are bleeding, and she tells us "stuff happens" and to get on with it.

She compares our catastrophe to her enduring someone's body odor for a brief moment in time.

She could have moved away. Where are we to go?

James Lefter, Bel Air

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