Senator Biden Supports Clemency for Pollard

J4JPnews clarification - August 24, 2008

Senator Joseph Biden, new running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Obama Barak, stated his position on Jonathan Pollard in a 2007 interview (with Shalom TV). When asked about Pollard, Biden said, "... There's a rationale in my view why Pollard should be given leniency. But there is not a rationale to say what happened did not happen and [he] should be pardoned..." These comments are now being widely re-reported in light of the breaking news on his candidacy for Vice President of the United States and largely misunderstood. J4JP offers the following clarifications:

  1. Senator Biden's comments support Clemency for Pollard

  2. Jonathan Pollard is not seeking a pardon.
    Pollard has never asked for a pardon.
    Pollard is seeking clemency.
    Clemency is what Senator Biden refers to when he speaks of "leniency."

  3. Clemency vs. Pardon - what's the difference?

  4. A pardon, in American legal terms, wipes out the crime. It virtually erases the history of the crime. A pardon restores full constitutional rights to an American citizen, as if he/she had never committed a crime. This explains why Senator Biden replied: " there is not a rationale to say

    what happened did not happen

    and [he] should be pardoned."

    Clemency, unlike a pardon, does not wipe out the record of the offense; it essentially readjusts the sentence. Clemency can be expressed as a reduction of sentence, and/or as a commutation to time served.

    Jonathan Pollard has never sought to erase the fact that he did indeed transfer classified information to Israel and in doing so, broke the law. He has never denied this.

    Pollard has never asked for a pardon. What he does seek is clemency.

  5. Some of the reasons Pollard seeks presidential clemency include:
    • a

      grossly disproportionate sentence

    • a broken plea agreement
    • the use of secret evidence
    • a false charge of treason
    • ineffective assistance of counsel
    • ex parte communication between prosecutors and judge
    • a lack of due process
    • a sentencing procedure infected by false allegations and lies
    • violation of constitutional rights

  6. Jonathan Pollard is now completing his 23rd year of an unprecedented life sentence for providing classified information to an ally, Israel. The median sentence for this offense is 2 to 4 years, with some serving no jail time at all.

Senator Biden's comments supporting presidential clemency for Jonathan are appropriate and welcome.

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