Legislators have gone over the edgeIt is...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Legislators have gone over the edge

It is with extreme interest that I follow the recent explosion of crime legislation on the national and state level.

I am convinced that our legislators have gone over the edge in their desires to attract votes, rather than just locking people up at a pace that far surpasses all other civilized nations in the

world. We should study the phenomenon:

* The people are deeply concerned over violent crime, yet our legislators have passed laws in which non-violent criminals receive the same time as the violent offender, or more.

* Our legislators are indeed very busy converting misdemeanor crimes to felony convictions and all the connotations of a felony conviction.

* When we had the local policeman on the beat, he knew the neighborhood and resolved most small issues without judge and jury.

* We closed numerous mental institutions on the basis of saving money; something about mainstreaming the mentally ill, yet many of these people are committing crimes and are being handled by the criminal justice system rather than the mental health authorities.

* Once a person has been convicted of a felony and decides to turn his life around, it becomes a near impossibility.

The state and the local authorities deny ex-felons the privilege of obtaining professional licenses to obtain the right of employment.

If the ex-prisoner who has served his full sentence tries to obtain employment, then the state most readily supplies past criminal information to prospective employers, which ends the possibility employment.

If the ex-prisoners are unable to find any meaningful employment, guess what they are going to be doing for a living?

We just cannot continue to pass more criminal laws and construct more prisons, unless we are willing to double the taxes.

We must instead address violent crime, reduce the convictions for non-violent crimes and substantially reduce prison time for non-violent offenders.

The general public is concerned about murder, injury and rapes, yet the legislature keeps burdening our law enforcement agencies with everything but the main fears of the public.

In conclusion, I smoke three cigars a day and around my grandchildren, too, but the legislature is actively considering making this a crime as well.

George J. Tsigounis

Baltimore

Worsening service

It seems that next year we all will be paying three or four cents more for our first-class letters.

Delivery of mail is at an all-time low. Letters from the same zip code as mine, in Baltimore City, can take up to five days to reach the recipient due to the United States Postal Service's new "Automated Mail." Why?

This new automated service has increased the delivery time of a first-class letter from Florida from the normal three days to 10 days. Thank you, USPS, for your time-saving innovations. I also seem to get my mail delivered on the stoop rather than in the mailbox, an arm's length away. Some of it is other people's mail with my house number, but a wrong street.

Can it get worse? We will see.

Barry A. Neistadt

Baltimore

Backing up new police effort

Hooray for Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier! It is about time Baltimore got on its horse and allowed the police chief to do his job.

All of Commissioner Frazier's ideas are way past due. Felons beware.

Now that it appears the Police Department has things started in the right direction, the judicial system has to improve.

What is the sense of having the Police Department do the job it was meant to do if the judiciary just slaps felons on the wrist and sends them back out on the streets to start all over again?

The judicial system has to punish offenders. It has to say, "One mistake -- no more." It is not fair for law-abiding citizens to pay for prisons while cringing behind locked doors and barred windows.

The death penalty should go into effect after one offense -- drug dealing, armed robbery, murder, carjacking -- not after years of taxpayer-financed prison time as one appeal after another is sought.

Commissioner Frazier's plan is beyond our wildest dreams. Now, let's have the judges stand behind him. It will do no good for the police to make arrests if the courts do not back them up.

&Henry; and Pauline Schlitzer

Towson

Hon, from London to Highlandtown to 295

About a year ago, I had the occasion to call London for my boss for business. I forgot about the time difference, and no one was there except for the security guard.

Realizing that I was from the U.S., he happened to ask me what state. When I told him I was from Baltimore, his voice perked up and he asked me if I would do him a favor.

Being a little skeptical but curious, I obliged him and asked what could I do for him.

His reply was, "Would you please call me 'Hon'?"

Trying to keep from laughing, I replied, "I can't do that -- 'Hon.' " He said, "Do it again," so I did it again.

My wonderful boss, who loves a good laugh, had me tell this

story on numerous occasions.

So I say, keep the sign. This term of endearment just adds to Baltimore uniqueness. Don't you agree, Hon?

Laura Mrozek

Catonsville

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Look, "Hon," what ridiculous fool thinks that life is fair? By the time we analyze the ethnicity of all the Baltimoreans who incorporate "Hon" into their conversations, I'm sure that we would include all dimensions of multi-cultured backgrounds.

Let's not become ridiculous. "Bro" is not a Baltimore idiom, but rather a national (if not multi-national) one; why not ask President Clinton to give the nation a "Bro" sign on the White House lawn? Then we could all donate our taxes for such idiocy -- which is what this whole thing is.

Dee Dorsey

Baltimore

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I am angered and embarrassed over the possibility of having the word "Hon" added to the "Welcome to Baltimore" sign on Route 295, and I am shocked that any legislative body would even consider doing it.

Baltimore is supposed to be the city that reads, not the city that exalts a colloquialism representing improper use of the English language.

This word is a part of the Baltimore vernacular, but it is not fair to doom all of Baltimore to being associated with it by displaying it on the introduction to our city.

Go to the artistic community, the business community, the African-American community, the educated community, you won't hear a single "Hon" uttered anywhere, and yet a few people think they have the right to insist that the term is universal. I have news for them: It isn't!

Now the State Senate has entered the game by threatening to withhold funding unless Baltimore lightens up.

I could only describe that action as selfish, unwarranted and probably illegal. At any rate, it is certainly not amusing.

However, rather then dwelling on the negative, I'd like to offer a compromise.

If certain people really feel the need to have "Hon" publicly displayed in association with this city, lets put it where it belongs: on the Highlandtown bridge over Eastern Avenue.

That way the people who say "Hon" can get a big laugh over it, and the people who make fun of the people who say "Hon" don't hang their heads in shame every time they have to drive on 295.

Lonnie Fisher

Baltimore

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