Death penalty must be used more often
When will the senseless killing of innocent, law-abiding citizens end? When will the senseless killing of our law enforcement officers end?
I don't see an end to it. Not as long as the rights of the criminals mean more than the rights and safety of the rest of us.
I agree with Governor Schaefer and Mayor Schmoke that the death penalty needs to be enforced. Shorten death-penalty appeals. How many appeals did Officer Weiner get? How many appeals did the two Baltimore County teens murdered by John Thanos get?
It terrifies me that a family member or friend can become one of a growing number of victims. It terrifies me to wonder what kind of world my young grandson will encounter as he grows up. None of us should have to live in fear. Yet that's what it has come down to.
It angers me that our judicial system has let the majority of us down. Short-sighted people will say the death penalty does not deter crime. Of course it doesn't; Maryland's last execution was in 1961.
The Associated Press reported that 25 executions have taken place in 1992 and that there are 2,600 men and women on death rows throughout the nation.
Some executions are scheduled for later this year, but how many will actually be carried out? You and I have a better chance of being murdered than a prisoner on death row has of being executed. That seems wrong to me.
Start enforcing the death penalty so that the criminal elements in this country know that if they take a life they will be assured that within, say, two years after their conviction they will be executed for the crime.
If a child is told he will be punished for some misdeed and then punishment is not carried out, the child reasons that, since nothing happened the first time, why not repeat the misdeed. The same mentality is at work with repeat offenders.
We should not be fearful of losing our lives or the lives of someone dear to us to those who make a mockery of our judicial system. Give us back our streets and neighborhoods. Give us back our lives.
I firmly believe in capital punishment. People who commit bizarre and frightening crimes are no good to themselves or society. They are beyond rehabilitation and should not be allowed to occupy overcrowded jails at mountainous cost to taxpayers.
Capital punishment would not only eliminate some of the overcrowding in jails, but also the criminals who are plaguing our streets and homes.
The situation is so bad that hardened criminals are being released to make room for others, with the result they continue their grotesque and brutal activities upon more innocent victims.
None of this makes sense. Deadly violence has become a cancer eating at society. Murder and violence happen with frightening regularity.
Some of the worst criminals sit on death row for years while appealing their sentences -- again at enormous cost to the taxpayers.
Parole is not the answer. The justice system as it stands today is rotten to the core.
The police are doing their best. Yet in 1991 the U.S. had roughly 25,000 murders. The homicide rate is the highest in the Western world. An American is shot, stabbed, beaten or strangled to death every 22 minutes. Today no one is immune.
The National Rifle Association and its lobbyists are obstructing the passage of the Brady Bill, which calls for gun control. Some say it is wrong to take the law into your own hands and shoot a vicious trespasser who intends to murder, rape and rob. I do not agree with this theory.
I wonder what kind of world am I living in. Law and order no longer exist. Morality is just a word in a dictionary. You can buy your way out of anything -- from the top to the bottom. It is amazing what a slick, well-paid attorney can achieve. Money talks every time.
Elegy for a slain police officer
Working in my office recently, my thoughts were constantly interrupted by the sound of helicopters circling overhead.
This is not an unusual occurrence in Baltimore City. That day, however, the sounds were prompted by a funeral at Sol Levinson & Brothers funeral home. The helicopters contained fellow officers of Ira Weiner, who had been shot and killed in the line of duty the previous Saturday.
Throughout the day, I witnessed various explanations, concerns and analyses about the chain of events that led to this funeral and to another city officer who lay wounded in a hospital bed.
An older neighbor said, "How can we feel safe when this can happen?" A radio announcer said, "This is a tragedy, but what about Rodney King?"
A radio talk show caller said, "Why is the mayor calling for the death penalty for murderers of police officers but not the children of the city, who were also victims of murders?"
A local business person said, "This is indeed a sad day in Baltimore, when two officers can be shot successively with their own weapons."
I even heard a twenty-something young lady sneer, "I wonder if Ice-T's 'Cop Killer' had anything to do with this?"
And last, but certainly not least, my own mother called and said, "Be careful, baby, it's getting bad out there."
The sound of helicopters eventually stopped later that morning. Reisterstown Road gradually returned to normal. And as the comments and analyses subsided, the fact remained that the life of Police Officer Weiner had ended.
On Sept. 21, the Baltimore County Council passed the 10-Year Solid Waste Management Plan. We would like to acknowledge several positive points that were addressed in amendments to the plan.
The importance of citizen participation has been recognized, and better means for citizen input have been outlined. The desirability of converting the Texas facility into a materials recovery facility has been recognized as an area for future study.
Composting organic materials has been understood to be an important step in waste reduction. Finally, the county has reaffirmed the potential need for a regional marketing coordinator for recycling industries.
Some deficient areas in the plan require more work. The economic development commission should establish a priority for attracting recycling businesses to the county. Recycling offers greater economic benefits than incineration.
Despite our efforts to educate county officials, a moratorium on the construction of new incinerators was opposed by the council. An incinerator moratorium is not only protective of human health and the local environment, it provides an incentive for recycling businesses to enter Baltimore County, since recycling and incineration compete for the same waste stream.
While Resolution 73-92 calls for a 50 percent recycling goal by 1997, this was not included as an amendment to the solid waste plan as had been outlined in earlier meetings. The absence of interim goals between the 20 percent proposed for 1994 and the 50 percent proposed by 1997 is reason for concern.
Finally, there is no explicitly stated plan for 100 percent countywide curbside recycling. While the county recycling division has issued progress reports and updates on pilot programs, there is little in the plan to suggest a path for comprehensive recovery of all containers (i.e. glass, metals and plastic) in the future.
We hope these serious deficiencies will be corrected in upcoming revisions of the plan. We are pleased to have the opportunity to educate and advise on the issue of recycling. We look forward to continued open dialogue on environmental issues in Baltimore County.
The writers are are members of the Sierra Club.
Food for Africa
I am a 16-year-old junior at Western High School in Baltimore City. I am very concerned about the 50 million Africans threatened by starvation.
On Oct. 16, 150 nations, including the U.S., will observe World Food Day, designed to make people more aware of the issue of world hunger.
The U.S. is responding by sending 145,000 tons of food. I think that much more can be done.
Some of the things that could be done include asking the presidential candidates to publicize their opinions on this famine, putting greater focus on food self-sufficiency and using non-governmental organizations to distribute the $800 million development fund for Africa.
All these things would help make people more aware of the issue of world hunger and especially the starvation problem in Somalia.
Laurel R. Doerfer