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Bloodsworth deserves full compensationI am bitterly disappointed...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Bloodsworth deserves full compensation

I am bitterly disappointed with the Baltimore County government's decision not to contribute any money to the settlement with Kirk N. Bloodsworth.

Mr. Bloodsworth was wrongly arrested, convicted and sentenced to die in 1984. He spent nine years of his life in prison. Years of not looking forward to release but to death by electrocution. Years of living in fear of other prisoners, who show no mercy to child molesters.

I can't even fathom the depths of despair a man would experience living the constant shadow of death. Trying daily to protect yourself from the inmates you are forced to live with.

If there is a hell on earth, Mr. Bloodsworth has been there. We put him there, we were wrong, we should compensate him.

The state has owned up to its error. It is attempting to help Mr. Bloodsworth with a $300,000 settlement. This figure may seem like a lot, but it works out to $3.79 an hour for every hour he was kept in hell.

Stanley J. Shapiro, the Baltimore County attorney, reiterated the court's position that the county did nothing wrong in the Bloodsworth case and should not pay.

We did something horribly wrong. We introduced a young man to a decade of hell.

I can only compare Mr. Shapiro's statement to that of the tobacco industry lawyers who say tobacco is not harmful or addictive. They say what they have to to save themselves and their clients money.

This time we have a chance to do what's right. We certainly didn't the first time.

ames E. Lorber

Baltimore

NAACP and history

Glen McNatt's apparent support for the NAACP's summit is understandable (column, June 25). The NAACP, Mr. McNatt asserts, would like to see everyone share in the organization's "long term goals of equality and justice for all Americans."

But with the invitation of bigots and despots to its recent conference in Baltimore, I wonder if these goals are really attainable?

As an African-American woman who has become educated as a result of affirmative dedication, I have some hard questions to ask:

Has the NAACP, which I have long supported, sunk into such an abyss that, in its struggle to survive, it must embrace a foul-mouthed separatist with a mixed bag of ideas -- most scurrilous -- who attracts a blind and faithful following?

What has Louis Farrakhan been doing these last 10 years, as black crime and unwed motherhood have escalated and our moral compasses have become inverted? Off the backs of our black brothers, Mr. Farrakhan has become a millionaire.

The French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, perhaps stated it best when he said, "It is possible to synthesize enthusiasm, devotion and hope by activating hatred." We must take note, however, that history has taught us its consequences.

Has the NAACP learned anything from history? When its accepts among its ranks agitators, prevaricators and purveyors of hate who pursue the road map of Bolsheviks, Fascists and Nazis, I really wonder.

Cheryl Scott Williams

Owings Mills

Fort McHenry

Although we who are directly involved in the preservation and enhancement of Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine appreciate the interest, we feel The Evening Sun June 23 editorial, "Deteriorating Ft. McHenry," may have been inadvertently misleading.

While it's true that money has been provided by the federal government to repair much of the damage inflicted by time and neglect, the campaign to acquire those funds was initiated in the private sector by the Patriots of Fort McHenry.

It was strongly supported by veterans' organizations and other local citizens through the office of Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, in whose district the fort is located.

The funds acquired for repair and restoration aren't nearly enough to cover all the work that has been and must be done.

The mast from which the "Star Spangled Banner" flies, for example, was set in place only a few years ago at the precise spot where the original stood through the combined efforts of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, CSX Corp. and many other non-public contributors.

But most important is the pressing need for a new visitor and education center.

The current structure was built to accommodate an average of 150,000 visitors each year. That number has now grown to more than 650,000.

For that reason, the Patriots of Fort McHenry have this year launched a major capital campaign to raise more than $5 million for the design and creation of a new visitor center.

In a city rich in history, Fort McHenry is truly the crown jewel. But vTC a great deal more must be done to make that unique and priceless gem to sparkle.

Alan R. Walden

Baltimore

B6 The writer is president, Patriots of Fort McHenry.

Guessing game

Prescription errors due to doctors' scratchy-scrawly penmanship may cause added illnesses and longer hospital stays.

A Harvard study found poor penmanship was among the causes of 220 prescription errors out of 30,000 cases. Although the mistakes were less than 1 percent, it is still too many. The American Medical Association suggests that some physicians should print, type or computerize prescriptions.

The American Society of Hospital Pharmacists feels that more doctors should be aware that they can cut costs for patients by recommending generics rather than brand-name drugs.

A physician's RX will be more effective when he learns to write right.

Joseph Lerner

Baltimore

Social Security

I am responding to Shirley Chater's June 14 letter to The Evening Sun, "Social Security meets crucial social goals."

I'm afraid that Shirley Chater missed an important point of my June 7 letter. She says, "Of course, the payment of Social Security taxes is mandatory, so it is a moot point." A key point of my initial letter was that "contributions" to Social Security should not be mandatory but a choice each individual makes.

That I don't have that choice is what makes Social Security a socialistic program. It's my government telling me in so many words that I (or any other citizen) am not smart/wise enough to save or invest for retirement or other eventuality.

Further along in her letter, Shirley Chater says, "What would happen to Mr. Soloway and his family if his investments failed?" The question should be what will happen to me if Social Security fails?

I'm sure Shirley Chater is aware of the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, which is currently looking at ways to rein in the costs of Social Security and Medicare and is supposed to issue a report by end of the year.

Some measures it is considering are reducing unearned spousal Social Security benefits, raising retirement age for Social Security, reducing benefits for better-off recipients and, of course, raising payroll taxes.

Of course, they could agree on nothing, and the Social Security system would collapse some time in the not too distant future. Somehow, I'd feel safer out of the system taking personal responsibility for my life -- a concept that fewer and fewer people seem to believe in.

Shirley Chater in her letter also brings up that Social Security helps those that become disabled.

She says, "Statistics show that 42 percent of young men and 28 percent of young women will die or become disabled before reaching retirement age."

These percentages seem high to me, as they may have to others who read her letter. I can't help wonder if she is counting those Social Security disability recipients who are drug addicts and alcoholics but are classified as disabled?

Is she counting those on Supplemental Security Income program (SSI), which is administered by Social Security?

For those unfamiliar with the SSI program, one of the requirements is that alcoholic or drug addicts must get treatment to receive payments. On June 8 the GAO stated that "the Social Security Administration, which administers the SSI program, has done such a poor job of monitoring the requirements [of the plan] that only one-fifth of about 70,000 disability recipients are receiving treatment."

Finally, Shirley Chater says, "Thirty-six percent of older Americans are kept from living in poverty by their Social Security checks. I do not think they consider themselves to be 'unwilling wards of the state.' "

But in reality they are! If they are dependent on those checks, what happens if the amounts of the checks are reduced or even eliminated by legislation from Congress or the president?

Michael Soloway

Owings Mills

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