Rabbi Pesach Lerner on Parole and Clemency for Jonathan Pollard
Special to Hamodia - August 31, 2007
In a letter to the editor [Hamodia 08/22/07] a concerned reader asked why Jonathan Pollard has not applied for parole, and why does he not have an application for commutation of his sentence, clemency, on file.
I wish to assure readers that Jonathan's pro-bono attorneys have done and continue to do everything that can be done, within the legal field, to gain Jonathan's freedom. They are outstanding professionals, stymied only by a judicial system that is strongly biased against Jonathan.
That Pollard is eligible for parole is correct, but the implication that there is a possibility that he would receive parole is totally incorrect.
The law enforcement and intelligence agency officials who will be given the opportunity to express themselves on the subject have indicated that they would oppose parole. Immediately following sentencing, the U.S. attorney vowed that Mr. Pollard would "never see the light of day." Parole is a virtual impossibility under those circumstances.
Every legal expert the Pollard camp has spoken to, and there have been many, told them that the parole board would reject Jonathan's request, out of hand. However, a greater risk: rejection of a parole request could include a 15 year "set aside", which means that not only will parole be denied but, also, the case cannot be revisited for another 15 years. That "set aside" would be catastrophic for any clemency request to be made within that time period. In short, a parole request is absolutely the wrong avenue to follow. [
J4JP Addendum: Pollard's Attorneys on Parole below.]
Your reader also questions why there is no request for clemency on file. Jonathan's requests for clemency have been turned down numerous times, already. Any new request will also be refused. [
J4JP: See ]
Jonathan's only "human" chance---and we pray for HaShem's immediate intervention, is for the president to be approached by the right people, with the right documentation, at the right time, and we are working in that direction. The moment we feel there is a chance for clemency, a request will be filed.
It is very important that everyone continue to call the white house, daily, 202-456-1414 or 202-456-1111 and request that the president release Jonathan Pollard, 22 years in prison is enough! The calls have been noticed. The president is aware that Pollard is an issue the community cares about, and that is important.
I have visited Mr. Pollard four times during the last few months. His health is not good; he suffers from numerous illnesses. Every day Jonathan Pollard remains in prison only makes his health situation worse, not to mention the "normal" dangers of being in a federal prison.
We must all continue to pray for the release of Yehonatan Ben Malka and with G-d's help, we will soon merit to have our prayers answered.
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President
National Council of Young Israel
J4JP Addendum: Pollard's Attorneys on Parole
Newsweek Magazine, referring to a scurrilous book purporting to be about the capture of Jonathan Pollard, authored by Ronald Olive, posed the following question about parole to Pollard's attorneys. Their response follows.
NEWSWEEK: Mr. Olive contends that Mr. Pollard has never sought an early release through the formal channel - going in front of a parole board. Is this true and if so, why has Mr. Pollard avoided the parole board?
POLLARD'S ATTORNEYS: Mr. Pollard has not "avoided" the parole board. It is the Department of Justice that has avoided providing Mr. Pollard's current attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman (both of whom have the appropriate Top Secret/SCI-eligible security clearances), from seeing the very documents that were submitted to the sentencing judge prior to Mr. Pollard's sentencing in 1987. Although Mr. Pollard's lawyers have a clear "need to know," the government has refused to allow them to see their client's entire court file, which is partly under seal. Without access to that file, people like Mr. Olive know that they have free reign to say absolutely anything about Mr. Pollard without any risk that they will be contradicted by the documents. Applying for parole without access to the court file and in the face of unremitting hostility by people like Mr. Olive and others in the intelligence community would be significantly less effective than an application on the basis of the complete court record.