Inside Scholars

Your recent cover story ("Heart of Darkness," Feature, May 7) was about the Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI) Scholars, and a unique volunteer program initiated by Loyola University philosophy professor Drew Leder. As one of the JCI Scholars, I would like to say kudos to City Paper, and Baynard Woods, for the fine article. I would also like to point out two other related items.

First, under the Newt Gingrich "Contract with America," funding for Pell Grants which enabled prisoner access to worthwhile college programs and enlightenment, came to a crashing halt in 1994 or 1995. Prior to termination of the Pell Grant program for prisoners, there were many college programs to assist prisoners in rehabilitation and treatment, and prepare them for return to society upon release. Absent these college programs, there is a thirst among many prisoners for anything which can keep our minds occupied on constructive learning, and the JCI Scholars program is especially instructive in this regard. It fills a big void in our life-the removal of full-time college-degree programs.

Second, words can't express the gratitude to these many volunteer professors, as Dr. Leder, and the Maryland Institute College of Art professor Mikita Brottman, and students from their various college classes who make the weekly trek to JCI, undergo the arduous security detail examinations for entry, and endure long trips from their respective college campuses to JCI and back again, all while having their own classes and homework assignments.

In short, these volunteer professors and students, and the JCI librarian Grace Schroeder, give of their hearts to make the volunteer JCI Scholars program available to us, even absent funds for its support. We are entirely dependent on their kindness for this program, and by Division of Correction rules, we are unable to express our gratitude with gifts. Accordingly, let these few words in City Paper be Exhibit A in expressing our deep appreciation and great thanks to all these kind souls who honor us by maintaining the JCI Scholars program.

Douglas Scott Arey


Hold your fire

I was incredibly disappointed to read the column "'Hold Your Nose' Primary Election Time" (Political Animal, May 7) in the City Paper. In the piece, the columnist pushes the notion that all three candidates "stink." While it's true Gansler and Brown have failed to excite Maryland's Democrats, Delegate Heather Mizeur absolutely has. Just look at the reactions on Twitter after City Paper posted this poorly thought out column. As someone who has volunteered countless hours for her campaign, it's clear that people fall in love with Heather Mizeur WHEN they are able to hear her message.

Rather than jabbing at the fact that people don't know Del. Mizeur yet and ridiculously accusing her of being solely the pro-marijuana candidate, perhaps the columnist should have acknowledged WHY Heather Mizeur is not a household name just yet. It is because she made the decision to run on public financing and not accept corporate funding like her two opponents. She made the decision to truly represent us-a decision that comes with less money to spend on TV ads or staffers or bumper stickers or yard signs. What she does have is a grassroots army working to get the word out-phonebanking, knocking on doors, creating their OWN yard signs to show their support. There is no other candidate in this race garnering that sort of excitement. Heather deserves to be applauded for her decision to reject corporate cash and its damaging influence, not poked at for lack of name recognition.

When Heather Mizeur's ads start appearing on TV, and when people hear her refreshingly progressive and straightforward message in the debates, this primary will swing her way. She's far from a "hold your nose" candidate-she is a "hold your head up high because Maryland can elect a governor who truly represents us" candidate. Did I mention that she'd be the first female governor in our state and first openly gay governor in the country? She's not running to make history though-she is running because she wants to do the job, as she repeatedly states.

Perhaps the author of this column should have examined the front-page story that City Paper itself put out earlier this year, "The Quiet Revolution" (Feature, Jan. 15). He would have seen that Heather is fighting for universal pre-K; the implementation of a living wage; a moratorium on fracking in our state; campaign-finance reform and big corporate money out of politics; an end to the cradle-to-prison pipeline; the closure of big corporate tax loopholes and small-business tax relief. He would have seen that she's the only candidate who is willing to truly tackle both economic and educational inequalities in Baltimore City. He would have seen that Heather is fighting to return Annapolis to the people-and how often does that come around in an election?

As Heather said in your front-page story, "You don't have to become part of the problem to win, you don't have to play by the same rules that have turned everybody off. You can do it differently, build trust with the voters, and have them engage in the process again."

Instead of featuring a column that encourages apathy and bashes a candidate who has taken a stand to fight for us, perhaps you should have just featured "The Quiet Revolution" column a second time. At least then you'd be offering something worth reading.

Perry Wheeler
Scaggsville, MD

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