I frequently disagree with Dan Rodricks' views on criminal justice, but his column on November 30th ("Calvin Ash, political prisoner?") was particularly disgusting. To claim that Calvin Ash is a political prisoner is an insult to all those who are being persecuted simply for voicing their views in oppressive nations throughout the world.
Mr. Ash was convicted of first-degree murder, a crime which most Americans would say deserves a sentence of life in prison. The fact that he is eligible for parole does not mean he has any kind of right to it, and I don't see how it's a flaw in the system that murderers who are sentenced to life are actually staying in prison for the remainder of their lives. Mr. Rodricks' offhand dismissal of Mr. Ash's murder conviction as his "one and only crime" also shows an appalling disregard for the victim, who of course remains unnamed in the column.
This was not a youthful mistake, it was a cold-blooded decision to gun down another human being. It is fair and appropriate that people who commit such crimes pay a lifelong penalty.
Pascal Patin, Baltimore