- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 9, 2002

Special report broaches prison reforms

;I congratulate The Washington Times on its special report, "Crime's poster children" (June 23). It was generally balanced, although the proponents of "hard time" were able to make their arguments first, which took up half of the article.

Most rehabilitative approaches, however, at least were mentioned, but I wish that the article would have looked in depth at the restorative justice movement. For example, the modus operandi now of New Zealand's juvenile justice system is for the offender to provide restitution to his or her victim. This is worked out at a sit-down meeting of the offender with the victim in the presence of trial officials.

These offender-victim encounters are being pioneered in the United States, too with both juvenile and adult prisoners. Most participants, of course, are those who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes, but restorative justice conferences are starting to occur with prisoners sentenced for violent crimes. Surprisingly, this is even happening in such a "hard-time" state as Texas.

Finally, besides giving more space to restorative justice, the role of the juvenile corrections staff should have been examined.

Although most staff function today as "guards," perhaps in the future we should begin to see them as professionals in the field of corrections. A first step would be to provide parity of salaries with adult corrections staff. (Juvenile corrections are regularly paid a third less.) Why should those entrusted with "turning around" juvenile offenders be paid much less than those taking care of adults, many of whom already are hardened criminals?


Executive director

Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants


Soccer fans kick back

Raymond J. Keating's banal rehash of the soccer basher's litany requires many corrections, but I will make only one, which I think is the most important: His charge that soccer is not in the pantheon of "thinking man's" sports is so far offside as to require a red card for gross misconduct ("Kicking the soccer habit," Op-Ed, Friday).

Soccer is most assuredly a sport for thinkers, but only those willing to stretch their intellect need apply. Unlike the newer sports adopted by the Eastern elites who rejected soccer in the late 19th century yes, soccer was here first soccer does not conveniently stop action and reset the players so slow-minded spectators can see the strategy. ("Oh, I see they're using a nickel package.")

No, as a free-flowing game, soccer strategy changes with each pass and player movement. To say soccer is simplistic and boring would be to say the same of jazz. Even more disturbing to those with restricted thinking, soccer is a players' game coaches run practice, but players control strategy during the game. That's quite different from the command-and-control approach taken by the typical gridiron football coach or baseball manager. (Speak about sports resembling socialism.) This 13th-generation, freedom-loving American finds soccer to be the kind of sport more suited to our national character than those controlled by iron-fisted coaches.

In the end, the reason the Raymond Keatings of the world dismiss soccer is not that it's simple, but that is so incredibly complex as to be beyond a simple denunciation.


Fredericksburg, Va.

I read with interest and no little dismay Mr. Keating's article on why he considers soccer a dull sport. As a fervent British soccer fan myself, I feel I must defend the sport so slandered by Mr. Keating.

Leaving aside his bizarre claim that soccer stinks of socialism, what was so galling about the piece was Mr. Keating's assumption that American sporting isolationism is a result of some higher intelligence.

Despite confessing to never having taken much interest in the sport until the last few weeks, he feels able to make the sweeping judgment that the sport is "simplistic," unable to appeal to a discerning American mind but fine for the unenlightened masses unfortunate enough not to have been born in the United States.

Imagine if the situation were reversed. For example, I have never taken much interest in baseball, because it seems an incredibly dull sport in which a few minutes' action are drawn out into hours for the sole purpose of giving spectators time to overeat and overdrink. However, imagine the reaction I would get if I brazenly announced that it was "simplistic," consisting solely of throwing a ball, hitting it with a stick and running around a diamond a sport played by children (as its British version, rounders) before they mature into proper sports. I'm sure Mr. Keating could tell me a million reasons why baseball is far more complex than that so why does he assume devotees of the world's favorite game cannot do the same?

Anyone who has watched soccer for any length of time knows it has both the speed and strategic thinking Mr. Keating claims it lacks. It is a sport in which team tactics, individual flair and athleticism are combined. This year's World Cup final was a fascinating confrontation between the disciplined strategy of the German team and a Brazilian team in which individual skill and pace are given free rein.

Soccer is, and will continue to be, the most eagerly followed sport in the world for many reasons, but certainly not because it is simplistic and the rest of the world is intellectually more retarded than the United States. If Americans fail to get excited about soccer, that's fine; I will never care about baseball, American football or basketball. Vive la difference. But please don't think it's yet more proof of American supremacy.


Maidenhead, Berkshire, United Kingdom

Dracula undressed

I feel I speak for fellow Hungarians when I say that building a Dracula-inspired theme park in Transylvania would be ridiculous ("Dracula does Disney?" Page 1, June 15). First, the very notion of "Dracula," popularized by the eponymous 19th century novel, is widely misconceived. The name is derived from Vlad the Impaler, also known as Dracul, who was a Romanian tribal chief in the late Middle Ages. He did not live in a big, dark castle; rather, in tents on the southern slopes of the Transylvanian Alps, which are located not in Transylvania proper but in Wallach, a region of present-day Romania. And although Dracul, like the fictional Dracula, did battle the invading Turks, he was a recurring turncoat, renegade and bloody inquisitor who finally was eliminated by his own Wlach shepherds.

By the way, I believe the probable cause for Prince Charles' opposition to the building of this theme park is because his great-grandmother, Hungarian Countess Claudine Rheydey of Transylvania, is buried near the proposed site. When Queen Victoria visited her grave, she had a marble memorial erected on the site. To build a theme park next door would effectively desecrate the site.


Executive Vice President

American Association of Transylvania


Keep judges in the classroom as students, at least

Doug Kendall, executive director of the Community Rights Counsel, wrote to urge that university programs for judges be banned ("ABA, judicial group defend themselves," Letters, Sunday). Such programs are offered at Princeton, New York University, Yale and a host of other law schools, including George Mason School of Law and are an important service in the public interest.

The George Mason Law & Economics Center's programs feature some of the world's greatest scholars. These include Harvey Mansfield, Michael Ignatieff, Roger Shattuck, Gordon Wood, Joseph Ellis, John Searle, Cass Sunstein, Francis Fukuyama, Bernard Lewis and Nobel laureates James Buchanan and Douglass North. Take away our instructors and the New York Review of Books would have to fold.

Our programs and readings are listed on the Web at www.lawecon.org, where people can find just what pages of John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty" we assign to the judges who attend our programs.


Professor and Director

George Mason Law & Economics Center

Fairfax, Va.

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