Jonathan Pollard, the former Navy intelligence analyst who was convicted of passing classified information to Israel, has been behind bars for more than 12 years now. His life sentence - by far the harshest ever meted out for a similar offense - continues to make "equal justice under law" seem like little more than a palsied proverb.
Pollard's actions were clearly misguided and rightly punishable, but should he languish for life in prison while others obviously more perfidious have been set free? Americans who expect fairness in their judicial system should be sorely disillusioned at how grossly disproportionate Pollard's treatment has been, not to mention how duplicitous his prosecution.
Consider these facts: Shortly after he was caught, the government entered into a standard plea agreement, seeking leniency in exchange for information. Once Pollard had fully cooperated, the prosecutor promptly reneged on his promise. The lower court judge not only ignored the plea agreement but also considered a secret memorandum from then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger that offered speculative evidence - none of which Pollard or his lawyers have had a chance to challenge. Mr. Weinberger conjured up specters of unprecedented treachery. The judge sentenced Pollard to life in prison, and the prosecutor who agreed not to seek a harsh penalty recommended that he never be paroled.
Pollard Case Is One for the Legal Books, The Baltimore Sun, May 6, 1998