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Prison convert is a hypocrite

July 09, 2007

Re "He found a calling in prison," Column One, July 5

So former Republican Assemblyman Pat Nolan now thinks our state prison system isn't so great. He is typical of the hypocritical Republicans who chant "law and order" and keep upping prison sentences but only until it affects them.

One need look no further than President Bush's commutation of Lewis Libby's sentence, claiming it was "too harsh," when the statistics show it was actually quite typical for that kind of crime ("Libby's sentence was not unusual," July 4).

Perhaps if Nolan hadn't been carrying a grudge since he was 8, when he says he was attacked by a bully, he might have actually visited a prison and looked into its realities and sentencing instead of living in a chest-thumping fantasy world while passing punitive legislation he should be ashamed of.

I commend Nolan for his current position, but wonder whether he would care about prison reform had he not been convicted of a crime and made to serve a sentence he would have claimed was too lenient if it happened to someone else.

ROBERT W. MOFFIE

Studio City

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As a former chapter leader of Young Americans for Freedom in Covina and an acquaintance of Nolan in the 1970s, I found his prison conversion to penal reform interesting (and expected).

Regardless of how he got there, I agree with his conclusions, as the system has long been in need of overhaul. What I find more fascinating is the current wave of Republican support for his position after decades of harsh anti-crime rhetoric.

I guess it does make sense to support reduced punishment for criminals before so many of their colleagues face potential charges.

MARK JOHNSON

Vista, Calif.

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