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Rodricks wrong to decry parole and politics mix

Gov. Larry Hogan's recent choice to grant parole to three men convicted to life sentences as teens raises questions about the impact of public opinion on the criminal justice system.
Gov. Larry Hogan's recent choice to grant parole to three men convicted to life sentences as teens raises questions about the impact of public opinion on the criminal justice system.(Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

When Dan Rodricks condemns the parole system as infected with politics (“Hogan starts to fix a parole system infected with politics,” Nov. 29), most readers will assume he is accusing patronage and political corruption. It turns out, by “infected with politics” he means paying attention to voters.

Unfortunately, Mr. Rodricks is advocating releasing murderers and rapists back into society in the same edition of The Sun that contains an article, “Attacker’s early release is questioned,” about the terrorist who was released only to kill two people and wound three others in London.

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Most unfairly, Mr. Rodricks gave no hint of why past governors have held to a policy of “life means life.” The public supports the death penalty because they observed the alternative is murderers being paroled after serving part of their sentence, but prefer true life in prison to execution. Governors Parris Glendening and Martin O’Malley adopted life means life to give them political cover for stopping executions.

Mr. Rodricks revealed he is against “politics,” a.k.a. democracy in general, objecting to voting for judges and state’s attorneys. However, if the political machine selected state’s attorneys, William Donald Schaefer would have reappointed Baltimore City State’s Attorney William A. Swisher (“use a gun to defend your store”), instead of “politics” electing Kurt Schmoke to replace him.

James Stephen Kelly, Ellicott City

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