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Letters to the Editor - Sept. 3

September 03, 2013

Galley deserves thanks for his service to DOC

To the editor:

Assistant Commissioner Jon Galley is retiring after 46 years in corrections. I consider his departure a loss for the division.

From 2007 to my retirement in September 2011, I monitored DOC security performance against more than 125 metrics. I also performed more than 70 security audits at all state correctional facilities, examining cause-effect relations between the metrics and deficient security practices.

From a security perspective, the facilities in the Western Maryland region, overseen by Mr. Galley, consistently performed better than others in the system.

Mr .Galley’s retirement comes at a time when assaults reportedly have increased at North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI), which houses the most violent inmates in the system. Three data sets I monitored that were anomolies at NBCI were the relatively high number of formal inmate complaints, the short service experiences of officers (at that time) subjected to assaults by inmates and the assault response patterns. The first two were understandable since bringing a brand new maximum-security facility online has a costly learning curve. The third requires examination of the forces that contributed to its existence.

After a surge of security incidents at a correctional system, there is an increased tendency to assign blame. Blame seldom aids in finding solutions. Correctional operations are designed in such a manner that activities are reduced to easily defineable small bites. At the operational level, this approach can lend itself to effective prison operations such has been the case at the Hagerstown and Cumberland state facilities for years. Today’s prison systems, however, are complex systems. There are high numbers of interdependent variables at play. Prison security is not a zero-sum game.

We owe Mr. Galley our most sincere thanks as a hard-working  public servant. He was a competent manager of a complex system.

Y. Baykan, retired lieutenant
DOC security operations unit


Krauthammer’s  stance on Egypt is disturbing

To the editor:

In his column Aug. 25, Charles Krauthammer seems to suggest that the U.S. policy toward Egypt should be driven by fear. Yes, fear. Fear of the Muslim Brotherhood, to be precise. Not that the Muslim Brotherhood has done anything bad yet, but according to Krauthammer we should be afraid — very afraid — of what it might or might not do in the near future.

And therefore, according to Krauthammer, we do not need to do what’s right, we do not need to respect the people of Egypt, and we do not need to excel in our efforts to help that country. No, we can simply do the first best thing to alleviate our fear of the Muslim Brotherhood: support the Egyptian military.

And to justify and rationalize such a fear-driven response to the turmoil in Egypt, Krauthammer cites similarly unethical choices the U.S. has made in the past. Yes, sometimes those choices have indeed — eventually — led to free, democratic societies. However, to say that Pinochet “allowed free election ushering in Chile’s current democratic flourishing” is offensive. Remember, Chile already was a democracy when Pinochet took power, then tortured and murdered tens of thousands of people — many of them innocent children.

To justify unethical policies with “slim trumps zero” thus seems a bit cheap. Only tyrants think that the end always justifies the means.

Hans K. Buhrer
Smithsburg

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