Readers Respond

August 22, 2009

Prison construction moves state backward, not forward

As community members, how can we be comfortable with the state, already in budget crisis mode, preparing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on new detention centers and more prison beds, when decades of research from criminal justice analysts to local law enforcement show that prevention and early intervention using less costly community-based services are better for public safety? ("Catching Up," August 20)

How can we be comfortable with our elected state officials proclaiming that prisons are a "good investment" because they will produce jobs in construction and hiring of state employees? Construction of schools, recreation centers, and treatment programs could do the same and would go further to keep our communities safe.

At a fraction of the cost, the state could invest in education services, evidence-based practices, re-entry services for youth returning from placement, and other alternatives to incarceration that reduce juvenile arrests, even among some of those young people that city prosecutors want to try as adults.

Thankfully, our federal legislators are catching up. More than half of the House of Representatives, including Congressman Elijah Cummings, are co-sponsoring the Youth PROMISE (Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education) Act, a bill that promotes investment in practices that cost less, and yield savings due to reductions in crime, violence, juvenile delinquency, welfare, prison and other criminal justice costs.

But we do not have to wait for federal legislation to invest in what has been proven to keep us safe. We can encourage the governor, other elected officials, and state and local agencies to prioritize funding for these effective interventions now.

Angela Conyers Johnese The writer is the juvenile justice director of Advocates for Children and Youth.

State owes veterans apology over housing project failure

The veterans of Maryland are owed a huge apology by all the parties involved in the debacle called "Bayside at Fort Howard," with the recent announcement by the VA that it is scrapping the agreement it had signed with Fort Howard Senior Housing Association. Seven years after the closing of the medical center at Fort Howard, the main hospital building, and its many historical buildings dating from the early 1900s, will continue to sit unused and deteriorating while the VA looks for a "new partner."

The missteps, oversights and failures to communicate that ensued amongst the VA, Baltimore County and Fort Howard Senior Housing provide a clear case of why people believe their government is incapable of performing a task of any magnitude.

How much longer County Executive Smith, Congressman Ruppersburger and VA Secretary Shinsecki? How much longer until real progress is made on this property and the first veteran can finally move in and call it "home"?

G. Daniel Waszelewski, Baltimore

Government health plan likely to mirror Postal Service

Anyone interested in a preview of what a government run health plan would look like need merely visit any local post office where the lines are long, the wait interminable, the service abominably slow and the rates keep ..... rising!

Jerrold L. Brotman, Timonium

Cardin's stunt hurts Baltimore's image

As a resident of Baltimore's Inner Harbor I'm angered anyone would co-opt city law enforcement personnel and equipment for a silly stunt. Didn't it occur to Del. Jon Cardin and his pals we've been having unfortunate and highly publicized crime problems in our neighborhood?

It's bad enough municipal resources were squandered on Cardin's foolishness, but once again, we see total lack of concern for a local community. Although I did not witness the faux police raid, plenty of people did. They probably just shook their heads and bemoaned Baltimore's rising crime rate.

The silly explanation - America's bridal industry promotes over-the-top proposal themes (with costly "proposal planners") - doesn't wash. The folks in high places need to recognize local citizens deserve respect. Most of us don't fancy ourselves props in some rich guy's reality show!

Roz Ellis, Baltimore

Girl has more sense than State Delegate Cardin

I couldn't help but notice the juxtaposition in the August 19 edition of the Sun between two very different Maryland citizens.

On one portion of the page was an article about Jon Cardin, who saw nothing wrong with utilizing local enforcement to assist in his marriage proposal, even going on to boast about it later. Whether police were or weren't already in the area isn't the point, although some have explained it away in this manner.

On the other part of the page was a girl who managed to raise about two thousand dollars by selling lemonade, for the Mounted Unit.

It's too bad a nine-year-old apparently has more sense, maturity and decency than a state delegate.

Cheryl A. Herman, Pikesville

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