Richmond's approach could help Baltimore stop the violence
I was delighted to see that a delegation of Baltimore City Council members went to Richmond on May 5 to learn first hand of the success of Project Exile.
Bringing such a program to Baltimore was the centerpiece of my public safety plan in last fall's mayoral campaign.
Project Exile is a coordinated effort of federal, state and local agencies led by the U.S. Attorney's office. in which convicted felons in possession of guns are sentenced to a minimum of five years in prison.
This program, in place since 1997, has resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the homicide rate in Richmond, Virginia - while Baltimore's homicide rate has remained steady at 300 a year, and has even increased its pace this year.
Approximately 4,000 violent criminals are responsible for the vast majority of Baltimore's murders and violent crimes. We have clear methods and information for identifying and arresting these people.
Minimum mandatory sentences are essential to remove judge's discretion in sentencing these individuals. Speedy, certain justice needs to be the highest priority for this small core of violent offenders.
David F. Tufaro
The writer was the 1999 Republican nominee for mayor of Baltimore.
Death penalty deters killing, saves money
Those opposing the death penalty for the sociopaths who kill an innocent person will, in the long run, have the blood of innocent people on their hands ("Groups seek moratorium on executions," May 1).
Death for a murderer is not so much of a penalty as a deterrent to the next sociopath who contemplates murder.
It does, in a very humane way, do away with a worthless life.
Life in prison will provide those sociopaths with free room and board, entertainment, recreation and a style of living better than many of them were able to provide for themselves on the outside. The cost to the taxpayers is unreasonable.
Ruppersberger's budget improves special education
Although the overall number of Baltimore County public children receiving special education services has remained fairly constant over the last seven years, the number of kids with the most complex disabilities has grown at a startling rate.
Since 1993, the county's number of children with autism in the county has increased 400, those with severe emotional disturbance are up 200 percent and the number with other medical impairments is up 500 percent.
County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger understands this trend and has demonstrated real leadership on behalf of these kids.
His budget calls for a substantial increase in the number of special education teachers and instructional assistants, as well as a special allocation for state-of-the-art assistive technology ("Residents approve of proposed budget," April 26).
We urge the county council to support Mr. Ruppersberger's proposal. It is an important step forward in ensuring that kids with disabilities in this county reach their full potential.
Teresa K. LaMaster
The writer is a member of Baltimore County's Citizen's Advisory Committee for Special Education.
It's Libya's dictator who should be on trial
More than 11 years after the bombing of the Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland, two Libyans are on trial ("Libyans come to trial, 11 years after Lockerbie," May 4).
Moammar Gadhafi, the dictator of Libya, should be punished for hiring the men who caused this disaster. The king is more guilty than his messengers.
Despite 'token coverage', gays won't be silenced
It was disappointing to see coverage of the April 31 massive rally for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gendered people's rights relegated to The Sun's third page ("Hundreds of thousands march on Capitol to support gay rights," May 1).
Disappointment in this token coverage changed to anger the next day, when The Sun splashed a full-color photo of Cuban-Americans protesting in Miami on the front page.
It is impossible to understand how The Sun can justify this treatment of an extremely important event in this country's last great civil rights struggle, while continuing to give front-page coverage to the relatively minor issue of Elian Gonzalez.
It appears that The Sun wants to keep us invisible. But we will be seen and we will be heard until we achieve the same rights that all other Americans enjoy.
It isn't odd for a conservative to help poor, oppose bigotry
The Sun's "Cardinal O'Connor of N.Y. is dead at 80," (May 4) was a very nice article on a man of high principles. I am not a Catholic, but Cardinal O'Connor's unwavering voice for traditional conservative values will surely be surely missed.
However, in the article The Sun continued in a subtle way its underhanded attack on conservatives.
The article said: "All this gave the cardinal the profile of a zealous conservative, but he was also a passionate defender of organized labor, an advocate for the poor and the homeless, a vocal assailant of racism and anti-Semitism ..."
I am a very conservative individual and associate with many other conservatives.
I do not know one conservative who is not an advocate for the poor and homeless, and for eliminating racism and anti-Semitism.
We simply believe in the American people's ability to make decisions and care for themselves better than an inefficient Washington bureaucracy can.
We want to take care of those who truly need help and teach the able-bodied to care for themselves.
Article brought Paris right into our homes
Thanks to Stephanie Shapiro, I spent three nights and four days in the City of Light ("Paris on a whim," April 30).
I did not actually go to Paris, but her words, images and descriptions transported me to the markets, galleries, museums and bistros in the French capital.
The way Ms. Shapiro fully absorbed her short trip to Paris made me think of how I, too, like to travel. I need to go to Paris in the springtime.
Lawrence J. Simpson
Taking daughters to work teaches some dubious lessons
Another "Take your daughters to work day" has come and gone. Once again, scores of children were in America's work places, tracing up and down corridors, playing on computers and bugging adults for change for candy and soda machines ("Day to take kids to work leaves an empty feeling at some area schools," April 28).
However, I truly realized this day is a parent-child bonding experience when I saw parents take their smoking breaks.
Sure enough, the children followed their smoking parents outside at break time. The parents partook of their usual ritual gab and lit up. I even saw a young girl light up with her mom.
If the kid was in school, she may have really learned something. And at least she would have been forbidden to smoke.
William F. Alcarese