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Letters to the Editor 3/13

March 12, 2001

Letters to the Editor 3/13



Non-hunters deserve a voice



To the editor:

Congratulations to Governor Glendening for appointing an animal rights activist to the Maryland Wildlife Advisory Commission, causing the Coalition of Western Maryland Sportsmen to consider boycotting hunting in Maryland and taking their guns to neighboring states.

Actually, the hunters have nothing to complain about. Since the number of hunters has now dwindled to a tiny 5 percent of the population, and since, legally, wildlife in this country "belongs" to all citizens, the Wildlife Advisory Commission should be made up of 95 percent non-hunters.

Maybe now Maryland will come up with solutions other than killing to manage wildlife. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) looks forward to other governors following Gov. Glendening's lead.

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Carla Bennett

Norfolk, Va.




Books for Babies promotes reading



To the editor:

Did you know that Washington County has the undesirable label of being the county with the highest illiteracy rate in the state? Washington County Reading Council consists of 223 members who are trying to do something about this. Books for Babies, a project started by the reading council this year, is an attempt to make reading a priority from the first day of a newborn's life.

During the month of January, the parents of a first born child at Washington County Hospital were presented with a free book and a coupon to redeem for another free book at one of the parent discussion sessions scheduled at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown. The library has joined us in our endeavor, but the cost of purchasing the books has limited what we could accomplish during the first year.

Upon hearing of our worthwhile project, the Washington County Teacher's Association donated a check for $200 to use towards expanding Books for Babies next year. We are very appreciative of such a large donation, but even more appreciative of their recognition that in order to make literacy a priority in our community, more of us need to join together. "It takes a whole village" might be a worn out clich', but it's the truth.

Thank you WCTA, and other contributors. Every little bit helps. Anyone interested in donating to Books for Babies may contact Mary Newby at Cascade Elementary.

Linda Waroblak

President

Washington County Reading Council




Restore parole for life sentences



To the editor:

The question of when a policy becomes a law has been asked many times. Since the governor's 1995 announcement denying parole for persons serving life sentences - except those terminally ill, or old - no eligible person has been released.

Even though the Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled that the governor's policy doesn't constitute a violation, the policy has all the force, and effects of being a law. Those persons eligible for parole, since the governor's policy took effect, have been denied meaningful consideration for release. They are being told that the proceeding is an exercise in futility since the governor will not sign any papers for release.

In 1993, 134 people sentenced to life were removed from the pre-release system, after most had been there for many years, participating in both the work release and family leave programs. The majority had already served more than 20 years. Prior to the removal from the pre-release system, and governor's policy, persons serving parolable life sentences had more then a 50 percent chance of being released on parole. Now they have none.

It is questionable whether anyone knows what constitutes a life sentence in terms of how much time should be served. Some people have been released after serving 11 1/2 years, while others have served 30 years or more.

Clearly this policy is not what the legislation intended, and a blanket rule that parole will not be granted except when the person is extremely old or terminally ill frustrates judicial expectations.

Judges have certain expectations when sentencing defendants. This policy transforms the sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole into an entirely different sentence from that which the judge intended. It becomes a new sentence, with new consequences, that are imposed by the executive and not the judiciary.

What we are essentially asking, is that consideration be given to passing legislation repealing the governor's authority to sign for the release of persons serving parolable life sentences. We also ask that you consider the fact, that even though the Court of Appeals have ruled that the governor's policy is not an ex-post facto violation, it adds eight years to the sentence while the governor is in office.

Walter Lomax

Jessup, Md.

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