LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Services help youths stay out of trouble

As The Sun has reported, Farron Tates was returned repeatedly to the community after being held responsible for juvenile offenses, without effective support services being extended to him or to his troubled family ("A troubled life," March 13). He was then arrested for murder.

This tragedy illustrates a pattern that Advocates for Children and Youth recently identified in a comprehensive review of children entering the juvenile justice system.

Our study found that many youths are repeatedly arrested but provided little help until, after multiple arrests, they are placed in juvenile jails that turn many youths into career criminals.

The lack of community services creates this cycle of delinquency. The solution: offering more of the kinds of services evidence has demonstrated help delinquent youths.

For example, multisystemic therapy provides intensive in-home therapy and helps families establish support networks to address future problems.

In some studies, it has reduced arrests among delinquent youths by up to 70 percent. And it costs a fraction of what incarceration costs.

Community services save money and improve public safety.

Maryland is moving slowly in the direction of emphasizing such services. But it needs to move faster to avoid more troubled lives.

Angela Conyers Johnese

Baltimore

The writer is juvenile justice director for Advocates for Children and Youth.

Families must teach respect for the law

How is it the Department of Juvenile Services' responsibility that Farron Tates' life has turned out this way ("A missing link," editorial, March 16)?

It's a family's responsibility to raise a child to be law-abiding - not the government's.

DJS is overwhelmed because of people like Bridgette Tates who have children they can't care for.

It's not anyone's fault that Farron Tates is charged with murder except his own.

Kimberly Tucker Chris Tinker Parkville

'Troubled life' faces truly bleak future

The article "A troubled life" (March 13) tells the story of a 15-year-old sent home with a mother convicted of buying drugs - only to be charged with murder months later.

Our system is not perfect - not by a long shot.

However, before the courts release a juvenile into the custody of an adult, shouldn't that adult be investigated - at the very least to see if he or she has been arrested recently?

Farron Tates never had a chance.

And with no education, no money and no parental guidance, what future does he have?

Jail.

Cheryl Ragsdale

Owings Mills

Punish the bankers who need bailouts

There is a saying that "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer." Nowhere is the observation more appropriate than in the world of finance.

For a decade, banks and the finance industry gleefully and eagerly approved excessively large loans, while rewarding the higher-ups who should have known better than to approve such loans.

Now federal finance officials are supposed to help bail out companies such as Bear Stearns ("Rival to buy out Bear Stearns," March 17).

Of course, those companies will get help. But there has to be quid pro quo.

In exchange for federal help, authorities should make bank executives suffer some of the pain those facing foreclosures are suffering by insisting on pay cuts for bank leaders until normalcy is restored.

Richard L. Lelonek

Baltimore

Obama's denials lack credibility

Sen. Barack Obama has no credibility when he states that he sat through 20 years of sermons by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and never heard any racial, anti-American messages ("Candidate angered by pastor's speeches," March 15).

I suspect that either he heard such messages and agreed with them or he heard them and disagreed but didn't have the courage to confront Mr. Wright about his vile messages.

Either way, that should disqualify Mr. Obama from being president of the United States.

James R. Cook

Joppa

Ensure fair play for all athletes

The fight disabled athletes are waging for inclusion on high school teams deserves more honesty from all parties involved ("Athlete urges OK for disabilities bill," March 12).

I cannot believe the Maryland State Department of Education's opposition to allowing disabled athletes to compete is based on its concern for a possible expense of $2.8 million.

It's more likely that state officials are in political vapor lock over the need to weigh fairness with practicality.

Champion paralympian Tatyana McFadden has shown that her wheelchair can provide her an unfair advantage over legged runners.

As a society, we have committed to treating disabled people fairly. "Reasonable accommodation" has proved to be worth the cost, and to mitigate a history of unfairness while rarely providing the disabled with an unfair advantage.

I believe we can reasonably accommodate the demands of disabled athletes if we shift the focus from practicality to fairness. But this time, advocates for the disabled shoulder much of the responsibility for ensuring fair play.

Robert O'Connell

Baltimore

Exempt the bakeries from trans fats ban

I hope that before the city enacts legislation banning the use of trans fats in restaurants, the City Council will follow Philadelphia's lead and exempt mom-and-pop bakeries from such a ban ("City Council OKs bill to ban trans fats," March 11).

It is not very difficult for a restaurant to substitute oils for shortening for frying. However, if a law banning all trans fats were to be enacted, every one of our family bakery's recipes would have to be reformulated.

Many of these recipes came from Germany with my grandfather and have served our customers for more than 80 years.

Along with everyone else, our neighborhood bakeries are struggling with the rising costs of ingredients and energy.

To have a complete ban on trans fats could impose such a burden on us that it might indeed be the last straw for our bakery.

Sharon Hoehn Hooper

Baltimore

The writer is a co-owner of Hoehn's Bakery.

Hidden city treasure bursts into bloom

Photographs in Thursday's Sun revealed one of Baltimore best-kept secrets: the Howard P. Rawlings Conservatory in Druid Hill Park ("Wonderful blooms," March 13).

Anyone who is even remotely interested in nature's beauty must visit this awesome facility.

The exotic plants, flowers and trees from all over the world are beautifully displayed and lovingly cared for in this spectacular facility.

Take yourself, take your family and take your neighbors: I guarantee that everyone will be dazzled.

D. G. Hanson

Fork

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