The Baltimore Sun

Decriminalize drugs to curb the killings

The Sun's editorial "M is for murder" (Jan. 27) summed up the frustration surrounding efforts to deal with Baltimore's high murder rate.

The editorial highlighted several factors that contribute to the high murder rate. But it did not mention the one step that could bring the murder rate down and without which all other efforts, no matter how well-meaning, will have negligible effect.

I refer to drug decriminalization.

In trying to understand the high rate of homicides, it's important to ask why men are killing each other.

Most murders in Baltimore and other American cities are the result of "taking care of business" in the drug business - a business that has no recourse to the law or to the courts to settle its disputes.

The drug business is profitable because it is illegal and carries high risk.

In the absence of other economic opportunities, there will always be young men who rise to take the place of men killed, disabled or shipped off to prison.

It's time to stop repeating the mistakes of the past and change the opportunity-risk structure that channels so many young men to an early grave, a wheelchair or prison.

Substance abuse needs to be decriminalized and treated as a public health problem, not a police matter.

I have seen no evidence that drug use, injuries or death would increase if this step were taken - in fact, the evidence is to the contrary.

Ed Sabin


City's prosecutors must do a better job

After reading The Sun's editorial "M is for murder" (Jan. 27) and the article regarding rape charges against two city police officers being dropped ("Rape charges dropped," Jan. 27), one thing sticks out: The police can only do so much, the communities can only do so much, but the prosecutors can do a lot more than they are doing.

City prosecutors regularly drop cases they consider minor. They tend not to push for repeat offenders to get jail time. And yet in this rape case, they pushed for the prosecution of two officers who now appear to be innocent.

Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy does not get along well with the city Police Department, and it seems she does not really want to get along with the police.

Ms. Jessamy needs to have her prosecutors prosecute all charges, large or small.

City prosecutors also need to see that the time meted to criminals is spent under incarceration, instead of probation or house arrest.

Something needs to be done about the prosecutorial part of our justice system, and it needs to be done soon.

Kathy Riley


Turn Pimlico school into a crown jewel

It's time for the citizens of Park Heights and the African-American community to rise up and protest the planned closing of Pimlico Middle School ("Pimlico is being missed already," Jan. 19).

This school should be the crown jewel for children in the community.

Indeed, we should be pouring more money into this community school to fight the neglect and high crime in the Park Heights area that are killing so many of our children, especially the African-American males.

This resource, which has been an institution in the community for 50 years, should not be lost.

If we can revive once-stagnant areas such as the Inner Harbor, Canton and Fells Point, why not Pimlico Middle?

The Rev. William Wingo


The writer is the publisher of Power magazine.

Why can't Iraqis kick out Iranians?

I don't get it. Are not the operatives from Iran, a Shiite nation, working in Iraq with the permission of its Shiite-led government ("Iran to expand its role in Iraq," Jan. 29)?

So if the United States wants Iran's "security" folks out of Iraq, why not tell the Iraq government to order them out of Iraq?

Does the United States have to start a third war (with Iran) to do what it wants Iraq's government to do?

Jack Sherwood

Severna Park

U.S. made mockery of Iraqi sovereignty

You have to wonder what alternate reality members of the Bush administration are living in.

The Sun's article "Iran to expand its role in Iraq" reported that a spokesman for the American Embassy in Baghdad stated that the U.S.-led forces in Iraq would continue to "assist the Iraqi government in securing its borders and preventing foreign interference in Iraqi affairs."

Since when does "foreign interference in Iraqi affairs" not include invasion and occupation of Iraq?

Does the administration somehow believe that Iraq has become our 51st state and, consequently, that our actions there do not constitute "foreign interference"?

Statements and policies like this only serve to remind us just how out of touch these leaders are with reality.

Patrick T. Fleeharty


A distorted picture of violence in Gaza

One has to wonder why The Sun published a photo of an Israeli soldier pushing a Palestinian with an article that had nothing to do with Israel.

Also, the headline "8 Palestinians die in clashes" (Jan. 27) fails to mention that Palestinians are now killing each other in the Gaza Strip, from which Israel withdrew more than one year ago.

In addition to factional violence, Palestinians were busy launching more than 1,000 rockets this past year into Israel as a "thank you" for Israel's departure from Gaza.

Surely a casual glance at the photo might lead a reader to erroneously assume that Israel was involved in the deaths reported in the article.

The photo's placement was both misleading and incendiary.

Erika Pardes


The Sun's headline "8 Palestinians die in clashes" ran above a long article that was alongside a picture of an Israeli soldier pushing a Palestinian.

This makes it reasonable to assume the Israelis are killing Palestinians.

One never would have guessed from the headline or picture that the article was about partisans of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority fighting each other.

Lee H. Belaga


Gambling already sponsored by state

I don't understand the brouhaha over slots ("Pimlico Special halted, raising stakes on slots," Jan. 26).

When I was a kid, there were slot machines in Maryland. It was not the end of civilization.

And the other day I watched while a local television station made a big deal over the fact that it is now the one to watch for the daily lottery drawing. I also saw promos for the state's new scratch-off game.

Gambling is here in Maryland, sponsored by the state. It is too late to argue about its morality.

So if people want to put their money into one-armed bandits instead of scratch-offs or Lotto tickets, I say, let them.

Pat Harcarik


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