Build schools, not juvenile jail

Thank you for Thursday's op-ed piece highlighting the folly of automatic waiver of juveniles to adult court ("Keep kids out of adult court," Oct. 7). The proposed new adult prison is a government boondoggle that will cost about $500,000 for each bed. It will also cost about $8 million per year to operate. Given the data that clearly show that automatic waiver to adult court is not effective in preventing crime, voters should be outraged at the proposed waste.

At a time when our schools are so dilapidated, the plan to spend half a million dollars to create the capacity to incarcerate one youth sends an entirely counterproductive message. We can build or renovate new schools for one tenth this amount per student.

On the same day, a front-page story says that Baltimore City cut its dropout rate in half in three years ("More finish high school," Oct. 7). Our children want to learn, but they are hampered by schools that threaten their health and safety and lack necessary facilities like science labs and libraries. Build schools, not jails.

Charlie Cooper, Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the Maryland Education Coalition.

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