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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Rosewood residents given new freedom

Gov. Martin O'Malley did an extraordinary thing for residents of Rosewood Center on Tuesday -- he signed an executive order mandating its closure ("Maryland to shut home for disabled," Jan. 16).

Closing Rosewood will finally bring an end to the unjustified confinement of the disabled and will help people learn to live independently.

The governor acknowledges that institutions for the disabled are outmoded and that all people have a right to live free in the community.

The doors to Rosewood should have been shut and locked in 1999, when the Supreme Court declared that the unnecessary segregation and confinement of individuals with disabilities constitutes illegal discrimination.

Instead, it wasn't until the conditions at Rosewood deteriorated to unacceptable and inhumane levels that the decision to close the center was made.

But this is a civil rights issue. All people with disabilities who live in state institutions have a right to live in the most integrated setting and receive services that meet legal and professional standards.

Rosewood residents will now be able to live freely in homes in the community.

Rachel London

Baltimore

The writer is an attorney for the Maryland Disability Law Center.

Community living boosts quality of life

I support Gov. Martin O'Malley's decision to close the Rosewood Center ("Maryland to shut home for disabled," Jan. 16).

All research shows that the more connected people are with their community, the better their quality of life.

Maryland is one of the leading states in regularly assessing the quality of life of its residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the Ask Me! survey.

And we have learned that quality of life is much more than being physically taken care of, although physical well-being is a basic need. It is also more than being contented, although emotional well-being is important.

Quality living involves family and friends; it means being included along with everyone else.

It involves opportunities to develop as a person, to make choices and to be treated with dignity as a person with rights.

We all want a good quality of life, regardless of our abilities or circumstances. And we all need the support and help of others as we relate to our community and environment.

And indeed, Maryland has many community organizations whose missions are to support individuals with disabilities and help them live a life of quality.

Experience in Maryland and elsewhere shows that moving disabled individuals from an environment highly controlled by others to one with more freedom increases their quality of life, even though it may be scary in the prospect.

The residents of Rosewood will not be moving to situations with inferior support and abandoned.

They will be moving to situations better designed to enhance their quality of life.

Gordon Scott Bonham

Baltimore

The writer is a research adviser to the ARC of Maryland for the Ask Me! Project, which is sponsored by the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration.

Sparrows Point sale must include all mills

This cat-and-mouse game the Justice Department is playing with possible buyers for the steel mills at Sparrows Point has to end soon.

The Sun's article "Sale trustee set to visit Sparrows Point today" (Jan. 15) makes an issue of petitions being circulated by workers because of fears that tin mill and cold mill operations will be shut down or eliminated altogether.

Those who work at the mills need only look around the mill where they work to see operations eliminated because of outsourcing.

No matter who buys Sparrows Point's mills, it must be made very clear that all operations are included in the sale.

LeRoy R. McClelland Sr.

Essex

Dismiss the lawsuit by injured escapee

Regarding the frivolous lawsuit filed by an unnamed lawyer on behalf of Pueblo County, Colo., inmate Scott Anthony Gomez Jr. seeking compensation for injuries Mr. Gomez sustained during an escape attempt ("Inmate hurt in escape sues sheriff for injuries," Jan. 14), I think the federal court in Denver should quickly dismiss the lawsuit and suspend the legal license of the lawyer who filed it.

Mark Haas

Timonium

Wrong query skews death penalty poll

The recent Sun poll on the death penalty asked the wrong question: "Should Maryland follow New Jersey's lead and ban the death penalty, or should the death penalty remain legal in Maryland?" ("In Md., most want option of execution," Jan. 15).

How many of the people polled knew that New Jersey's assembly has voted to replace the death penalty with a life sentence without possibility of parole?

The article did note that earlier polls had found that "support for capital punishment drops precipitously when pollsters introduce the alternative sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole."

I'd bet that if you did the poll over and asked Marylanders: "Should Maryland substitute life without the possibility of parole instead of execution as the maximum sentence, or should it retain the death penalty?" The Sun would get different results.

The way you frame the question matters.

Morton Winston

Timonium

'Eye for an eye' isn't helpful for anyone

On the front page of Tuesday's Sun, a Towson woman summed up what the death penalty is really about: "I believe what the Bible says -- an eye for an eye, and if they kill, they should be killed." The death penalty is about revenge. It is not a deterrent.

It's unfair -- how many rich people are on death row?

It's unjust -- more than 100 people who were once on death row have been found to be innocent in recent decades.

And it's actually more expensive to execute someone than to make them spend their life in prison.

The death penalty is obscene and uncivilized -- our continuing use of it puts the United States in company with countries such as Iran that take the idea of "an eye for an eye" to its logical end with amputations, public hangings, torture, lashings and mutilations all in the name of justice.

Welcome to the reality of revenge. But count me out.

I agree with what Mohandas Gandhi said: "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."

Paul Iwancio

Baltimore

Genderless pronoun a welcome reprieve

I would beseech critics of the proposed gender-neutral pronoun "yo" to come up with what they would find acceptable as a substitute for "he/she" ("New pronoun dumbs down our language" and "Single pronoun simply confusing," letters, Jan. 11).

At least Elaine Stotko, who proposed this pronoun, has made an attempt to relieve us of this pain.

George Wroe

Glyndon

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