We read (July 8) of two youngsters caught and charged with stealing two cars: "After being charged with auto theft, the youths were released in the custody of their parents."
In many conversations with hardened career criminals one sentence is heard over and over again. "If they had just punished me the first time there might not have been a second time."
Youngsters who are let off easy because it's just "their first offense" get the message loud and clear, don't worry about getting caught, it's no big deal. They learn that the policeman and the judges are nothing to fear.
A real kick in the pants rather than a slap on the wrist is "tough love." But, like all "tough love," it does the job.
There is nothing wrong with being respectful, even fearful of authority. A child should have some fear of the police if he is tempted to crime. He should dread the prospect of going before a judge.
Probation before verdict, being released into the custody of one's parents, being let off easy because it is the first time one is caught, all send the wrong message.
Any prison inmate will testify to the truth of this if only asked. Shouldn't we be asking?
Richard G. Ballard
The Baltimore Sun is a true citadel of moral authority and social consciousness. This is aptly demonstrated in its daily classified advertisement section.
The Sun apologetically declines "for sale" space to gun owners and gun show promoters, an otherwise legal activity, claiming its concern for "the growing problem of gun abuse."
Yet several sections before in the personal classified, it has no apparent problem allowing the exercise of the First Amendment right of those advertising "hot phone sex," "nasty girl talk" and the like.
I guess abuse of women, the solicitation of pornographic activity and sex for sale is OK, since the First Amendment is The Sun's sacred trust -- that is, unless the customer is a believer in the Second Amendment.
M. L. Keiser
Maryland Senate seat for sale! Forget the electorate. Focus, instead,on the "Lavish fund-raiser in the Nation's capital to benefit Sarbanes" (June 27).
The financial supporters, according to the article by John B. O'Donnell and Nelson Schwartz, included "representatives of organized labor; companies and industries overseen by the Senate Banking Committee" within the Washington Beltway as well as the incumbent administration.
What has happened to "campaign reform," one of the many "changes" promised by the campaigning Clinton in 1992? It remains the same old politics as usual -- you favor the hand that feeds you.
If the Democrats are victorious in the fall and retain control of the Congress, the special interest groups will remind Sen. Paul Sarbanes of their financial support and patronage since he will be able to repay them with special favors when he becomes chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
Senator Sarbanes has the reputation of raising taxes and being a "big spender," voting Democratic on every issue and especially for the big money lobbyists, who not only support him but are constantly looking over his shoulder.
What has he really done for Marylanders? Apparently, their local fund raisers account for nothing.
When there is a Senate vote, you need not wonder how this Maryland senator will vote -- partisan every time. He fails to respond to his constituency, not only within the Baltimore Beltway but across the state-- which votes him into office to represent them.
Louise P. Carty
Having lived overseas for two years, one of the things I am homesick for is the metric system.
Ironically, metric is the official system of the United States and is used in virtually every country of the world except the U.S.
I find I can better visualize distances graduated in kilometers than in miles. Also, a weather report stating the temperature as five degrees Celsius is easier to comprehend than 37 degrees Fahrenheit.
Why do we Americans still cling to an antiquated system of measurement that even the British have thrown away?
Now that we are competing with the European Union, the Pacific rim nations and our fellow members of the North American Free Trade Agreement, we should incorporate into our lives what our competitors and contemporaries do on a daily basis. If we continue to rely upon pounds and feet, we could find ourselves in the position of the soldier who is out of step with his fellows but who thinks that they are out of step with him.
In Mr. Simon's America
In the July 5 issue of The Sun, Roger Simon expressed his frustration with the possible exclusion of some of the prosecution's evidence in the O. J. Simpson trial based on a technicality. The technicality of which Mr. Simon speaks is the exclusionary rule, which provides that evidence that is obtained illegally is not admissible against the defendant in the subsequent criminal trial.
Mr. Simon has either jumped on the let's-crucify-O. J. media bandwagon or he feels so strongly about his position that his emotions have clouded his judgment.
The simple fact is that the exclusionary rule is the only effective means available of protecting us from unreasonable government intrusions, a fundamental right under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Mr. Simon is correct in stating that police officers are rarely reprimanded for obtaining evidence illegally. Unfortunately, this situation is not likely to change.
Police officers are under pressure from their superiors to solve the case and to do whatever they have to do to find evidence. While this is no excuse for resorting to illegal means to obtain evidence, it might explain why superiors are not as eager as they should be to reprimand their subordinates when they make illegal searches.
Besides, reprimanding a police officer for illegally obtaining evidence provides no protection to the citizen whose constitutional rights have been violated as a result of the officers ill conduct; the exclusionary rule does.
Allowing the admissibility of tainted evidence undermines the integrity of the judicial process. The prosecution loses its credibility and in most cases the defense has been prejudiced. This is what the drafters of our Constitution sought to prevent. . .
Mr. Simon compares a police officer who obtains evidence by illegal means to a parent who discovers illegal substances in his orher child's dresser drawer. This is a faulty analogy.
An emancipated adult citizen has a constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government; an unemancipated child has no such right as against parents.
Mr. Simon apparently does not agree with the Supreme Court's decision to place a magistrate a neutral party between the police and the privacy of our homes. Mr. Simon apparently is comfortable with the fact that the people who are in the business of gathering evidence for a criminal prosecution are making their own decisions on your guilt or innocence before you have had an opportunity for a fair trial. Mr. Simon apparently dreams of an America where there is no right to privacy, no right to feel secure in your own homes or to be free from unwarranted intrusions.
Apparently, in Mr. Simon's America, if a group of commendation-hungry police officers burst into your home at 3 a.m. on a tip that you may be in possession of illegal substances, and it turns out that the four-time convicted felon informant from whom they received the tip was wrong, tough luck. In Mr. Simon's America apparently there is no need for a judicial system where everyone has a right to a fair trial. In Mr. Simon's America apparently police are perfectly qualified to be judge, jury and executioner. . .
Mr. Simon wants the truth. The truth is that the Fourth Amendment is disappearing before our very eyes, and that is somewhat more tragic than the disappearance of some illegally obtained evidence.
It is only fitting that Mr. Simon quoted Chief Justice Rehnquist in his column. No justice has expressed more contempt for the exclusionary rule by contributing to the erosion of the Fourth Amendment through his court opinions.
Michael A. Sallustio