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Juvenile problems require compassion and understanding

(ran PC edition)

Re: Ridgewood shooting

Editor: According to the newspaper's account of the court events of Friday, the prosecutor stated: The law forbids the court from releasing the teen early, while the judge "thinks" he has no choice but deny the motion to release the accused.

They are claiming he is accused of another crime in association with the crime of possession of a gun on school grounds. It appears this possession was no more deliberate than the shooting, since the story released to date clearly states the first victim handed the gun to Steven.

Those in the front line of defense have been too busy playing the blame game in lieu of taking responsibility for their fractured role. Also, don't expect any moderation of kids taking a fall beyond reason. On Dec. 12, 1999, I wrote to Gov. Bush concerning the data that placed Florida as the leader in the nation in trying juveniles as adults and the power of prosecutors to make the determination to try a juvenile as an adult. This is a calloused approach to juvenile problems.

The Texas governor and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination says children causing disruption must be kicked out of school and punished. Our governor did not so much as acknowledge my letter. I mention this as an indicator of what we can expect.

State legislators are guilty of creating this state of affairs. Children, for the most part, can be turned around; however there must be understanding and compassion. I don't know how you find these two ingredients in a state that finds it acceptable to arrest and lock up juveniles with no interest in seeing they receive the counseling they need or a state that allows prosecutors to take a juvenile to court as an adult in front of judges who can only surmise what they are allowed to do.

Albert P. Johnson, Zephyrhills

Ridgewood High principal deserves part of the blame, fault in shooting

Editor: Last year at Ridgewood High School, three students were arrested because of having drugs in school. They found a note that was written by two of them that stated that they had drugs. There were no last names written on this note. I had class with one of the students and minutes after the note was found they questioned these kids about it.

How can all the blame be put on the students? If Deputy Little wasn't there at the time, it is principal O'Donnell's responsibility to get another officer at that school. Why didn't he do that? The kids were wrong to not give out Teddy's last name, but O'Donnell has the ability to find last names on his own.

When he heard a 16-year-old had a gun on or off school grounds, he should have looked into it, not waited for Little to get back.

They didn't need last names to find them. O'Donnell said, "If I believed there was a gun in school I would have done something. I have a kid here." That doesn't matter. He has a whole school to look after, and when he heard a 16-year-old had a gun something should have been done to look into it, regardless if he thought it was at the school or not. It's the fault of the students for being too afraid to give his last name, but it is more the fault of the principal.

Crystal Surace, New Port Richey

Newspaper missed a terrific story

at Pasco All County Band Concert

Editor: Newspapers in general report all that's wrong in our country. Well, Saturday night you had a chance to witness the good kids in our country and where were you? At River Ridge High School, more than 150 middle and high school music students gathered for the Pasco All County Band Concert.

These kids were picked after auditioning against hundreds and hundreds of fellow students. It was a spectacular evening. These kids did a terrific job and they only practiced for 2{ days. They came from all over the county. Parents had camcorders and cameras going. They were all so proud. They know how much hard work their children put into this.

Throughout the concert I stood in back videotaping my daughter. How proud I was. But, something was missing. Where were the newspaper reporters? Maybe your reporters were waiting for a more newsworthy story to break. Well, there are a lot of parents, grandparents and family friends who think you missed out on a terrific night. Next year if you want to go, call me. I'll spring for the ride.

Michael R. Carbone, New Port Richey

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