Florida Bishop Pushes for Pollard’s Release - The Jewish Voice
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Monday, September 26, 2022

Florida Bishop Pushes for Pollard’s Release

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“In a country that prides itself on fairness, surely the punishment should fit the crime,” said Florida Catholic Bishop Charles Leigh. “Mr. Pollard has already served more time than any reasonable court would demand.”The Florida Republican Primary, on Tuesday, January 31, may give hope to Jonathan Pollard in his quest for presidential clemency and release from prison after more than 26 years of incarceration.

The state’s top Catholic leader, Bishop Chuck Leigh, of the Apostolic Catholic Church in Tampa urged the Republican candidates to push for his release. Bishop Leigh serves as President of the board of the Florida Council of Churches and is on the governing board of the National Council of Churches in Christ.

Pollard, who was received a life sentence for passing classified information to one of America’s allies, Israel, has served much longer than anyone ever convicted for the same offense. The median sentence is usually two to four years with numerous situations of “deals” between governments for release of such prisoners. Leigh expressed extreme outrage about the length of Pollard’s incarceration and stated in an interview with the Jerusalem Post that it is “One of the saddest excesses of modern U.S. judicial system.”

“In a country that prides itself on fairness, surely the punishment should fit the crime,” said Leigh. “Mr. Pollard’s continued incarceration is cruel in the extreme. There can be no doubt that it is clearly immoral. Mr. Pollard has already served more time than any reasonable court would demand.”
The Republican candidates have both hinted that they would consider clemency for Pollard should they be elected. Newt Gingrich hedged his bets, saying on CNN in December that, “I am prepared to say my bias is toward clemency, and I would like to review it. He’s been in a very long time. But we are pretty tough about people spying on the United States.” Similarly, Mitt Romney, in a meeting with Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations said he was “open to examining” the Pollard issue.

The Rabbi of the Boca Raton synagogue, Efrem Goldberg, a vocal supporter of clemency for Pollard has requested of Rick Santorum to make a similar statement. Rabbi Goldberg had also requested in September of Vice President Biden to bring a request for clemency to President Obama.
Most prominent American Jewish leaders today are of a similar opinion to that of Bishop Leigh, that Pollard was guilty of a crime, has done his time and should be released.

Concluding his remarks, Bishop Leigh said “In the name of mercy, I call upon the Republican presidential hopefuls to endorse the release of Jonathan Pollard.

“In the name of the L-rd I call upon President Obama to take leadership and grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard,” he added.

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