MADD cites delays in DWI facilityI am...


MADD cites delays in DWI facility

I am writing to voice my concern about the delayed opening of the detention facility for drunk drivers in Baltimore County. Just a month ago, our chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving was told in a letter from County Executive Roger Hayden that the facility would open in January. Now we hear it will not open until March.

This facility will provide a 28-day treatment program for driving while intoxicated offenders, as well as incarceration. It is an alternative to sending them to prison, where treatment is not usually available.

The offenders will pay a fee to participate, which will make the facility self-supporting, costing the county nothing.

I have been told by Mr. Hayden that the delay is because of the financial crunch in Baltimore County. I think the county needs to get its financial priorities straight.

It is willing to spend $1 million to put out the stump dump fire; it spent additional money to hire a new spokesperson for the county executive. What about spending some money to save lives?

Drunk driving claims too many innocent lives each year. We need to find ways of keeping these drivers off the road. This program provides that opportunity.

We in MADD hope the county will take a hard look at this issue and open the facility with no further delays.

Donna Becker


The writer is president of the northern Maryland chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Government's drug money dependency

The wide and shallow education that we get in the media about our so called "war" on drugs obscures a horror that is harder to dramatize: The gutting of our civil liberties.

While the violence and excitement of the "war" hogs the spotlight, the Bush-Quayle administration is backstage building an unprecedented federal apparatus for putting people in prison.

More Americans are in federal prison today for drug crimes than were in federal prison for all crimes when Ronald Reagan took office. The U.S. has a bigger portion of its population behind bars than any other country, including a female population that has doubled in six years.

The Justice Department estimates that by 1995 more than two-thirds of all convicts will be incarcerated for drugs. This isn't a war on drugs; it's a jihad against people who use them.

Addiction isn't the government's first concern; treatment and prevention get less than half the funding that enforcement gets. Instead, the goal is simply to lock people up. Twice as many users as dealers are in prison for drug violations.

Even Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court -- no softee on drug offenders -- took it upon himself to chastise the Justice Department for overburdening the federal courts with petty drug cases.

In 1986, the Justice Department started offering local police departments a cut of the cash, houses, automobiles, airplanes and other assets confiscated in joint operations with federal drug agents -- cases that almost always go to federal instead of state court.

Since Justice started sharing the loot, confiscations have risen seventeen-fold to half a billion dollars a year, of which state and local departments got almost half. With police so dependent on the drug economy, they have little incentive for stamping it out completely! . . .

I.H. Desser


Service or slavery?

The Maryland Board of Education's requirement that forces students to work for other people -- regardless of whether it is "community service" or not -- is unconstitutional.

The 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865, states that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Whether it is 75 hours of community service or 75 years in a cotton field, slavery is just plain wrong.

The requirement that students must "volunteer" in order to graduate should be challenged legally and taken all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, until it is overturned.

This service requirement cannot be equated to schoolwork. When students take tests or do homework, no one else directly profits from that work except the students, who are receiving an education.

The mandatory service, however, despite any peripheral educational benefits to the students, directly benefits other people besides the students themselves. That is why it is slavery and not merely an alternative form of schoolwork.

The people who support this requirement are either unbelievably stupid or downright socialist. That such a requirement would even be considered, much less accepted, makes me ashamed to be a resident of Maryland.

Mark Burton

Glen Burnie

Hypocrisy on Haiti

I was taught that human beings had inalienable rights and that it was government's duty to see to it that these rights were protected.

Beginning with President Jimmy Carter, America let other nations know that human rights violations would result in the loss of American aid and trade. This was a good, moral move on the part of our government and other civilized countries joined us in this humanitarian decision.

The shame comes when we refuse to aid the people of Haiti. The army there overthrew a legitimate democratic government. America gave monetary aid to Haiti for over 20 years when the country had a dictatorship. Now the American government is bigoted and prejudiced regarding asylum for Haitian refugees and allows the economic embargo against Haiti's dictator to be violated. Where are Congress and the courts?

R. A. Kaptain


City's early school opening may pose financial dilemma

This year, Baltimore City public schools will be opening before Labor Day, and Superintendent Walter Amprey wants to ensure an excellent attendance rate this school year. To make this happen, he is making sure parents are aware that school will open on Sept. 1 by way of radio, television and newsletter announcements.

As a recent graduate of our city's public school system, I have witnessed an extremely low rate of attendance when school starts this early.

Why? Anyone who lives in the inner city knows that this is because many students must wait until after public assistance benefits are received.

Many teachers admonish the confused and often quite disoriented students who stumble into their classrooms two or three days after the start of school because they did not attend orientation that very first day.

What the school system fails to realize is that a great deal of students are on public assistance. Bus tickets (if the student is even eligible to receive them) are not issued until that first day of school, so many students lack the money needed for the bus.

Also, many returning students do not have the supplies necessary to begin work on that first school day.

In those years when school opened before public assistance checks were mailed out, I witnessed widespread pandemonium as thousands of sweating parents attempted to rush in order to purchase books, paper, pens, etc. . . .

Teachers and other school administrators need to realize that economics is among one of the strongest and biggest deterrents between students and attendance rates. The woman who has three or more children who need bus fare is presented with a challenge when her grant for the entire month has not yet been received.

The same woman will also not be able to purchase all of the supplies (which can be expensive at times) needed for those children before any income is received.

The state and our city . . . always find millions of dollars for the Inner Harbor or a new stadium, yet the mayor, governor and school superintendents are always whining about how bad our attendance rates and test scores are . . .

Instead of investing in trivial forms of entertainment, why not finance the world's greatest and most valuable of resources -- our public schools and their students?

Delphine Phelps


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