The Baltimore Sun

Turn Bowling Brook into a model facility

The tragedy at Bowling Brook Preparatory School and the announcement of the school's closing offer the state a rare opportunity to provide services for youths that it has not offered since it made the costly mistake of prematurely closing the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School ("Youth facility will be closed," March 3).

It is time for the state to step up and purchase the Bowling Brook facility and make it a state-of-the-art youth placement center that would be a model for the nation.

It is incumbent on the new governor and state legislature to provide citizens with responsible care for serious youth offenders.

Presently, Maryland provides no long-term care for serious youth offenders. Since November 2005, such youths have been placed with private providers, both in-state and out of state.

This ongoing situation has led to problems.

Private providers can and do reject youths for placement. More importantly, the state has little control over care at those facilities.

This leaves the state's detention centers overcrowded and youths doing "dead time" -- for as youths wait months for placement, the time they serve is not applied to their sentence.

And many of the private providers are thousands of miles away, which creates logistical problems for youths and their families and costly state travel expenditures.

The decision to close the Hickey School before providing an acceptable alternative has proved to be a serious mistake.

It is time to remedy that mistake.

Bowling Brook presents an opportunity to make things right.

Dudley Thompson


The writer is a teacher at the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center and a former teacher at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School.

Very violent youths overwhelm schools

Bowling Brook Preparatory School was once a model facility for juvenile offenders ("Youth facility will be closed," March 3). However, the youngsters there were not particularly violent. But it appears that in recent years, more aggressive youths were sent to the school.

The incident in which a student died recently indicates negligence. However, the Bowling Brook staff is not really at fault. Given the violent actions of the victim, psychiatric treatment and counseling would have been appropriate.

And Maryland officials seem to seek to correct problems at juvenile facilities by shutting them down -- e.g. the Cheltenham Youth Facility, the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School and now Bowling Brook.

But are the schools the problem? Or is it the increasingly anti-social behavior of the inmates?

Age-wise, the residents are teenagers.

However, often their behavior is as aberrant and dangerous as that of any adult.

Dennis Sirman

Selbyville, Del.

Obama's relatives just aren't relevant

The Sun, along with the remainder of this country's media, has gone off the deep end.

Why is a major newspaper concerned with announcing that a senator's great-great-great-great grandfather owned slaves ("A new twist to an intriguing family history," March 2)?

Why are we learning of Sen. Barack Obama's relatives and their deeds (or misdeeds)?

Anyone with even a little common sense should see that this is a nonstory.

I imagine just about every single person on the face of the Earth could be linked to a relative who has forced others into servitude -- whether they be white Southerners or members of African tribes (which often captured members of warring tribes and put them into bondage) or others.

And my point is this: Mr. Obama has zero control over what his relatives did.

And what does it matter to rehash such history in an age in which the United States is trying to rid itself of racism?

Daniel Walker


Joining the attack on Obama's family?

The Sun's article on Sen. Barack Obama's great-great-great-great grandfather being a slave owner ( "A new twist to an intriguing family history," March 2) failed to answer one important question: How on Earth is this relevant to the 2008 presidential election?

I anticipated smears on this man's character from the openly bigoted among us.

But for The Sun to add to this ugly discourse is a disgrace.

Cathi Forbes


Are Iraqis better off than before the war?

The Sun reported "Full electricity in Baghdad 6 years off" (March 2) right next to an article reporting yet another bombing in Fallujah ("Bombing rocks Fallujah," March 2).

Later this month will be the fourth anniversary of our invasion of Iraq.

Currently the country is in chaos. Car-bombings, suicide-bombings, kidnappings and drive-by shootings are a daily occurrence. A sectarian civil war is raging, and religious sites and festivals are regularly targeted for violence.

The infrastructure is in shambles and utility service is sporadic and unreliable.

The number of civilian deaths in the last four years is variously estimated at anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.

When Ronald Reagan ran for president in 1980, he asked: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

I wonder how the average Iraqi would answer that question today ?

Iver Mindel


Burying bad news may curb outrage

In response to Dan Rodricks' column "Where has all the outrage gone" (March 4), I would note that the war in Iraq wasn't mentioned until page 17 of that day's Sun ("Iraqi capital's bonds ripped apart by war," March 4).

Mariellen Wheeler


A voice for victims of sexual abuse

Thank you for The Sun's excellent coverage of the child sexual abuse bill in Annapolis ("Childhood abuse bill stirs debate," March 2).

For too many years, the child sexual abuse victims sat in shame and fear without any voice.

Giving them a platform from which to speak and enacting laws that would protect the defenseless is a cause I believe in.

The strongest opposition to this legislation continues to come from the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Thanks again for shining The Sun's light on this issue.

Kurt B. Gladsky


The writer is a member of the Greater Baltimore Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

No right to spread harmful habits

In response to the letter-writer who wondered if, after banning indoor smoking, the government will next move to regulate cheeseburgers ("What vice will we seek to ban next?" letters, March 3), I would say: If the person sitting next to me in a restaurant is trying to shove one down my throat, I certainly hope so.

Louise A. Machen


Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad