- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2000

System throwing too many bones at prisoners[p]

In your March 21 edition, I read with shock and anger about the dog-training program under way at the Mansfield (Ohio) Correctional Institution ("Dog-training program gives new outlook to Ohio inmates," Culture et cetera). Accompanying the story was a photo of one of the inmates with his arms lovingly wrapped around his dog. In a normal setting, this would be a touching picture of man and man's best friend. This particular man, however, happened to be a killer, convicted of robbing a bar and murdering its owner during a night of drinking and drug abuse.

I wondered how the family of the murder victim felt, not having the pleasure of ever again seeing their loved one enjoy the pleasure of a family pet (not to mention feeling his arms around them). My anger rose further when I read that the prisoners were screened for eligibility for the program and that no "animal abusers" could participate. In other words, killing a man in cold blood is acceptable, but cruelty to an animal is not. Nothing is more illustrative or telling about the state of our current criminal justice system than this program. The innocent victims of these predators are virtually forgotten while the convicted criminals are coddled with myriad warm and fuzzy programs such as this one.

Looking at the picture of the killer and his dog, I know which one is the real animal. Does society?

GERALD SPECK

Huntingtown, Md.

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