Schumer To Clinton: Commute Pollard's Sentence

Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-3210

July 29, 1993

President Bill Clinton
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice of the House Judiciary committee, I was dismayed by the disproportionate prison term received by Jonathan Pollard, and wish to urge your attention to his petition for commutation of sentence. Pollard, convicted of one count of passing classified information to an ally, was sentenced in 1987 to life in prison.

I in no way condone acts of espionage, nor do I underestimate the gravity of Jonathan Pollard's crime. Nonetheless, the lifetime sentence imposed on Mr. Pollard is unduly severe and inconsistent with the sentences awarded to other Americans convicted of similar offenses. Indeed, Mr. Pollard's sentence is harsher than the sentences meted out to individuals convicted of spying for enemy countries and is the harshest sentence in United States history for the crime of spying for an allied country.

Furthermore, in return for the government's promise to request a lesser term at sentencing, Pollard pled guilty and fully cooperated with prosecutors and security agency investigators. A prison term of life in prison - the maximum sentence possible - is excessive in this instance.

I recognize that the presidential power to commute a sentence is one that can not be exercised lightly. However, the exceptional circumstances in this case warrant your attention. I therefore call on you to consider commutation of Jonathan 's sentence to a term appropriate to the nature of the offense for which he was convicted and more accurately reflective of the consequences of his crime.

I was heartened by your promise during the presidential campaign to turn your attention to this issue after the election and I hope you will do so at this time.


Charles E. Schumer
Chairman Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice

See Also: