A Grave Injury to the U.S. System of Justice

December 3, 1996 - David S. Wyman

One of the strengths of our system of government is the principle of

equal justice before the law

. Included in that principle is the assurance that when a person is convicted of breaking the law, he or she will receive approximately the same punishment that any other person would receive for a similar violation that was committed under comparable circumstances.

This is only fair and surely most Americans support the concept. When this principle is grossly violated, not only is injustice done to the individual who broke the law, but our whole system of law is injured.

The principle of equal justice has been grossly violated in the case of Jonathan Pollard

, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who (as he admits with remorse) made the bad mistake of illegally relaying classified information to an allied government, Israel. Arrested in 1985, Pollard pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. By way of comparison, in all other cases of espionage on behalf of allied or neutral countries, the median sentence has been less than five years and the actual time served between three and four years.

Pollard has already been in prison longer than any other American in history convicted of the spying for an ally - and longer than most Americans convicted spying for enemies.

The ten years Pollard has served is sufficient punishment for his crime. It is time for him to be released. At this point,

any additional prison time served by Pollard constitutes a grave injustice to him and an equally grave injury to our system of legal justice


David S. Wyman is author of "The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust" and professor of history, emeritus, at the University of Massachusetts.


This article was written

June 30, 1995

. Jonathan Pollard is now in his

12th year

of incarceration.