Effective prisons can make a difference in...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Effective prisons can make a difference in inmates' lives

Gregory Kane recently acknowledged two restorative justice programs at the Patuxent Institution: the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund walk-a-thon and the "Reasoned Straight" program ("Inmates' fund-raiser offers a break from stereotype," Sept. 3).

On behalf of the institution, I thank Mr. Kane for calling attention to the inmates' efforts. I would also note that these are not our inmates' only efforts to give back to the community.

The Sun itself has also highlighted the quilts donated to the House of Ruth made by the female inmates ("Quilters, inmates connect at weekly Patuxent class," Feb. 2). And currently a group of inmates are building easels to be used by area elementary school students.

The change of attitude exhibited by the Patuxent inmates didn't just happen.

It is the result of a staff of correctional officers who create and maintain a treatment environment; a staff of treatment professionals able to break through to these offenders; a group of offenders willing to commit to treatment and a philosophy that prison can be rehabilitative.

The public wants criminals locked up and kept out of society for longer periods of time. Public officials have responded and inmates are staying locked up for more years than ever in prisons that are more secure than ever.

Yet as prison officials we are well aware that 95 percent of incarcerated persons will one day return to our communities. Even if the rest of society has written off our ability to change the people in our charge, we must try.

We have too much to lose if we don't -- and, as our inmates have shown, we just might be able to make a difference.

Richard B. Rosenblatt

Jessup

The writer is the director of the Patuxent Institution.

Ill-equipped libraries and ill-timed repairs hurt schools

The Sun's recent full-page editorial on the poor condition of school libraries raised a number of critical issues, all of which must be addressed if library revitalization is to take place in public schools ("Lost: school libraries," editorial, Sept. 1).

The Sun did an excellent job of stating the obvious, as have teachers and other school-based employees, and, as a librarian in the Baltimore schools, I want to express my appreciation.

Unfortunately, down-to-earth expressions of problems are not a language to which bureaucrats, education experts, school boards or even today's union leaders respond.

Still, I'd like to request that The Sun address another critical issue: Why do major building repairs and renovations begin with the new school year? Why are ceilings ripped out, wires slung, ladders spread, roofs tarred while students are in school?

I have worked in two schools where major roof work began in September and lasted from six to eight weeks. This is, quite literally, a horrible headache and a true impediment to teaching and learning.

If there is a reasonable explanation for this practice, I would be grateful if The Sun would find it.

Ronda Cooperstein

Baltimore

The writer is a librarian at Dunbar Middle School.

Why not bring together public libraries, local schools?

While formal school may be a 12-year experience for most people, libraries are available to all for life-long learning.

Why not partner the Enoch Pratt public library branches with the schools? A very effective informal relationship between them already exists in many areas.

As long as there are neighborhood libraries, this can be a reality for all neighborhoods.

Pat Gorman

Baltimore

Subversive hip-hop culture damages black children

Unfortunately, Stanley Crouch is right: When the young people of any community, black or white, abandon learning for the dubious thrills of street life, they'll always come in second to kids who stick to their books ("Acting 'ghetto' hurts black society most," Opinion

Commentary, Sept. 4.).

But what is most disturbing is the seeming shrug of helplessness by black parents and community leaders when faced with this awful trend.

One has to wonder who is in charge here. Who allowed the standards for the "most authentic" black behavior to be set by thugs? Why has so little been done to rein in these wayward children?

It doesn't matter who sits on the school board or in the mayor's office -- nor will "empowerment zone" money help.

Until the leaders of the black community say "no" to the subversive hip-hop culture that is destroying their children, black people will not advance.

Margaret Manlove

Baltimore

Sun's section for kids can please seniors, too

I would like to congratulate The Sun on its Wednesday "Just for Kids" section. It is educational, thought-provoking and just good, clean fun.

I am 87-years old but I read it every week and I want to thank you for what you are doing for us kids.

Harold J. Wade

Towson

Medicare chaos catches seniors in the crossfire

The chaos in the Medicare system, as recently reported in the article "55,000 Maryland elderly scrambling for coverage" (Sept 3), illustrates how inaction by our politicians, health-care providers and ourselves as members of this culture have imposed havoc on those who are most vulnerable as health-care coverage is terminated like outdated automobile models.

As a physician, I am unsatisfied with the focus on business and the corporate mentality of health-care organizations that have accessed Medicare funds solely for profit. Those who want to make money should invest in oil, not blood.

Why do our short-sighted federal and state representatives continue to let these corporate leeches get away with disrupting peoples lives?

I am glad I have colleagues who are ending their ties with insurance organizations who won't provide reimbursements for health care that is clinically needed.

Unfortunately, our seniors suffer in the crossfire of this battle between clinicians and insurance executives.

Dr. Joel H. Hassman

Salisbury

Evidence of mismanagement by Gore, Democrats is lacking

The Republicans want us to vote for them because of Democratic mismanagement over the last seven years.

But The Sun recently reported that Maryland's 3.3 percent unemployment is the state's lowest in history ("Jobless rate in Md. sets year of lows," Sept. 1).

The Republicans also want to hold Al Gore partly at fault for President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky.

It would seem that would be Hillary Clinton's problem. It has nothing to do with Mr. Gore or the American voter.

Stanley Oring

Pikesville

Clinton's phony piety shows religion, politics don't mix

The Sun's editorial "God is not a candidate in this years election" (Sept. 4) hit the nail right on the head when it argued "those who normally pray for guidance should do so. Making a public posture of it can be phony."

What greater example of this is there than President Clinton clutching his Bible in public after being caught with his pants down in the Monica Lewinsky affair?

Edward F. Day

Brooklyn Park

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