Letters to the Editor

Readers write about hope for crack-cocaine offenders, sunken treasure, school schedules, and who should run for president.

A ray of hope for crack-cocaine offenders

In response to the Dec. 11 article, "Judges get more leeway in crack-cocaine sentencing": Recent decisions by the US Supreme Court and the US Sentencing Commission to moderate sentencing for crack-cocaine convictions have cast a ray of hope on tens of thousands of people incarcerated for nonviolent crack-cocaine offenses across the nation.

These developments have also put tremendous pressure on Congress to change the statutory mandatory minimums that punish crack-cocaine offenses 100 times more severely than powder-cocaine offenses.

Most of the individuals serving time for crack are black and are behind bars for much longer than cellmates convicted of powder-cocaine offenses are. Although the majority of crack users and sellers are white, more than 80 percent of people incarcerated in federal prison for crack are black. Congress is the only legislative body that can drop this disparity.

The Senate is holding hearings on this issue early next year; the House should take similar steps to address these disastrous laws.

Grant Smith
Washington

Legislative assistant, Drug Policy Alliance

Who can really claim sunken treasure?

Regarding the Dec. 12 article, "An undersea treasure hunt, playing out in court," on the salvage of coins and artifacts from ancient Spanish shipwrecks: The Spanish government refers to them as being a part of Spain's heritage.

Has anyone considered that the rightful heirs to the coins might, instead, be the South and Central American nations from which the gold and silver was looted by Spaniards many centuries ago?

The idea that "we stole it so it's ours now" doesn't work any better than it did for ancient Egyptian and Greek artifacts in British museums.

Eliyahu Rooff
Walla Walla, Wash.

What affects school schedules?

In response to Jonathan Zimmerman's Nov. 20 Opinion piece "America's addiction to sports": I find the piece a bit off the mark both with the facts and the conclusion.

For example, Mr. Zimmerman states that "US high schools start the day around 7:30 a.m. Why? To make room for afternoon sports practice." Wrong. The real reason is economics. In addition to high schools, most school districts also have to manage middle schools and grade schools. By staggering their starting times, a district can save money by using the same school buses for all three school systems. And most districts choose to start high school first, so that the younger children don't have to wait in the dark for the school bus.

As for his conclusion, in a country with an epidemic of obesity, it is not the addiction to sports that needs to change, but rather the emphasis.

What we need is fewer spectators on the sidelines and a lot more ardent participants.

Our schools need to change the focus of their programs so many more students are directly involved in athletics.

We need more teams and more games. America needs an addiction to sports participation.

Wayne A. Spitzer
Faywood, N.M.

Too smart to run for president?

Regarding the Dec. 12 article, "Lee Hamilton: Washington's bipartisan power broker": Thank you for your enlightening profile on Lee Hamilton.

It's rare to hear of someone in Washington who so ably combines idealistic pursuits with levelheaded practicality.

I would complain that there aren't enough people like him among the presidential candidates, but then I realize that people like Mr. Hamilton tend to be too smart to run for president in today's political climate.

Robyn Shepherd
Washington

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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