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Letters to the editor - 11/26/03

November 26, 2003

'Restart' program for prisons ought to be rethought



To the editor:

I am writing this letter to express my concern about a new policy that the State of Maryland is planning to implement called Operation Restart. I must start this letter by stating that this is my personal opinion and I in no way speak for the Maryland Division of Corrections.

I have been a correctional officer for nearly 17 years and I have never seen the morale of my fellow officers and supervisors so low. Like all state employees, we have not had a pay raise in more than two years. We have lost the ability to earn a bonus for our work performance, along with the financial incentive not to use sick time.

This summer we were informed that we would not be allowed to work any overtime. We were told by our administration that because the state budget was so bad, we all needed to make a sacrifice. Many posts were collapsed, causing us to work short on most days.

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Now comes along Operation Restart. Under this new plan, when correctional officers retire or resign during the next three years, they will be replaced with teachers, counselors or social workers. Most institutions in the state have been assigned a number of correctional officers who will be replaced.

The idea is that inmates need more programs to keep them from returning to prison. I strongly support giving inmates the ability to attend GED classes, trade schools and sessions in anger management, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and other such programs.

Based on my experience, I can assure you that not every inmate in the state will take advantage of these programs. When released, most inmates simply return to the same neighborhood and associate with the same type of people they did before becoming incarcerated.

Many have problems finding a job making enough money to support themselves or their family, because many do not want to hire someone convicted of a crime.

Many are unwilling to work 40 hours a week, when they can make much more in one day selling drugs. How do you rehabilitate a child molester or a rapist?

While I agree that rehabilitation should be a goal for the State of Maryland, it should not come at the cost of cutting officers in our state correctional facilities. Remember, it is correctional officers who provide security while the inmates are paying their debt to society and being rehabilitated.

Please contact your elected officials and express your views on this issue.

Terry L. Hart Jr.

Halfway




Facility will divert evil-doers



To the editor:

The Valencia Neighborhood Watch would like to officially protest the paper's choice of a headline for the article in the Wednesday, Nov. 19, Daily Mail entitled "Central booking facility may lead to more inmates: Sheriff."

In choosing the emphasize a mere statistical possibility the paper has made it seem that "more inmates" is a major, negative concern which might lead to the derailing of the acquisition of a central booking facility. And this is just not so.

Sheriff Mades has been out to visit the watch and has communicated to us his fervent desire to see this facility established. We have been in touch with many elected officials who assure us that this facility is on everyone's "to do" list.

Everyone recognizes the need for the facility which will free up our officers to patrol, perhaps to arrest, hence the statistical possibility.

More important, the CBF will put our patrol officers out in the community to patrol, where their mere presence can be a deterrent to any evil-doer who sees them pass by! Their absence from the streets makes it much more likely evil- doers can carry out their nefarious plans.

Furthermore, the city officers, who have not had a contract in nearly three years, did not sign up to be baby-sitters and clerks. They are patrol officers; they need to be out here in the community patrolling and maintaining law and order.

Mary W. Haines

Valencia Neighborhood Watch

Hagerstown




Liquor laws enforced selectively



To the editor:

After reading The Daily Mail on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2003, on the front page was an article titled "Keeping a watchful eye on drinkers," which states Washington County wants to be included in a state law that requires supervisors trained in alcohol awareness to be on the premises during the operating hours of establishments that sell alcohol.

The county and state want to crack down on drinking with more control over the bars, with road blocks, check points, etc.

What I want to know is why it is okay when the Hagerstown government puts on some of its events (Blues, October, August feast) etc., they are big sidewalk beer parties.

When WHAG interviews people at the event and asks them what they like about it, the first words out of their mouths are "the beer."

You never see the sheriff's department or state police road blocks checks when these events are being held.

I am confused - is it okay when the government serves alcoholic beverages, but not when private businesses do?

Or are the politicians talking out of both sides of their mouths again?

Charles Miller

Boonsboro

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