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Letters to the Editor 2/18

February 16, 2001

Letters to the Editor 2/18



Parole violators give the justice system a bad name



To the editor:

I never in my life thought I would be defending the Maryland Parole Commission, but the Dec. 10 letter, "Parole board costing taxpayers," mandates a response.

The correspondent doesn't have a clue that it is he who costs taxpayers, not the parole commission. He made a stupid decision. He returned to prison for a parole violation - but it was his free choice and he has to accept responsibility for it. He can't put the blame on the Parole Commission.

In prison when a parole violator returns we say in the vernacular that the parole violator can't deal with reality and can't stand prosperity. Although there are many parole and probation violators in prison, most convicts endeavor to ignore them, since they are the root cause of our problems with the Parole Commission.

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Parole and probation violators perpetuate the stereotype that prisoners recidivate forever. Parole and probation violators make victims' rights advocates livid, and convince the public that all prisoners are incorrigible and properly subject to the "lock them up and throw away the key" philosophy.

Parole and probation violators harass the professional staff, from the librarian to the commitment office and warden, continuously requesting recalculation of their good days and industrial credits, since they are convinced they are owed just a few more days somewhere.

Parole and probation violators skew statistics, so that the parole commission becomes convinced it must tighten policies and again reduce the number of prisoners considered for potential moves to lesser security or parole release. The net effect is that parole and probation violators prevent other prisoners, who have never once had any opportunity for parole, to sit in prison for untold additional years before their first serious consideration for parole release.

Regular readers of this Letters to the Editor page are of the false impression that I am a liberal. In fact, my philosophy is one of pragmatic common sense, and if I were a parole commissioner, your correspondent would not do nine years on seven, as he put it, after losing two years of street time. No sir, instead of having to do nine years on seven, he would do 14 years on seven.

How? My philosophy would be that if someone obtained and failed to complete not the right but the privilege of parole, and returned to prison as a parole violator, it would be a new felony for which he would begin a new sentence all over again.

I have a bachelor degree in criminal justice and know that, legally, time never stops. I can understand why Mr. Williams has a theoretical problem understanding the parole system. However, if we put a premium price on parole, perhaps it would only be accepted by those prisoners who know their growth and maturity will enable them to successfully complete the parole; perhaps parole will then receive the value it deserves.

If a prisoner knew that he accepted parole with the understanding he would start his sentence all over from the first day if he violated it, we would not have the criminal justice system's revolving door about which everyone legitimately complains. If a prisoner knew that society imposed very severe penalties for violating parole, i.e., effectively doubling his sentence, he might be more likely to apply himself to the education, programming, treatment, self-help, spiritual and other opportunities available to him prior to his release.

In short, with severe punishments for parole violation clearly delineated in advance, potential parolees would become better prepared to enter society, less likely to become repeat recidivists, and role models for other prisoners hoping to emulate them before the parole commission.

Douglas Scott Arey

MCIH 130196 A-1-A-20

Hagerstown




Vaughn fought for red curbs



To the editor:

I am writing this letter to the editor on behalf of Larry Vaughn, a candidate for City Council.

As his treasurer and West End W.A.T.C.H. president, I would like to point out just a few of many good things that Larry has done in the past as well as the present as a volunteer helping in many ways in the West End of Hagerstown as well as the rest of the city and communities.

Many times late at night Vaughn will call me and the police department to report a crime that is in progress or simply just trying to help a neighbor in need or to keep our end of town clean, safe and secure for all of us (not just the West End), and for that Vaughn has been assaulted, laughed at and even ridiculed for what he has tried to do.

As a member of the Public Safety Board of Hagerstown I must point out the issue over the red curbs in the city's West End. I called Vaughn about this issue because of a certain city council member trying to take away the red curb zones to add parking spaces on the street which would be very dangerous to the safety of our very families.

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