Letters to the Editor: Brittney Griner's continued imprisonment in Russia is an outrage

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner listens to the verdict standing in a cage in a courtroom in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. A judge in Russia has convicted American basketball star Brittney Griner of drug possession and smuggling and sentenced her to nine years in prison. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP)
WNBA star Brittney Griner listens to the verdict standing in a cage in a courtroom outside Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 4. (Evgenia Novozhenina / Associated Press)

To the editor: Am I the only one who continues to follow basketball star Brittney Griner's current predicament with horror and outrage at the inadequacy of our government's involvement? Her criminal trial abroad should never have taken place, and our efforts to extract her from Russia's vengeful grasp have been shamefully ineffective.

Look, we all know she broke the law when she entered Russia last February with a trace amount of cannabis. But isn't it obvious the punishment does not fit the crime?

With the terrible fighting going on in Ukraine with reports of war crimes perpetrated by Russian troops that go unpunished, should we not try harder to get Griner safely home?

Cynthia Kokawa Lerner, Los Angeles

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To the editor: No prisoner anywhere should be forced to work as a slave or be deprived of basic human rights, malnourished, abused, tortured, raped or live in subhuman conditions of filth, danger and overcrowding.

As I read about Griner's imprisonment at a notorious Russian penal colony, it made me reflect on the terrifying prison system we have in the U.S.. Here, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution allows slave labor for prisoners, and rape and murder behind bars are commonplace, as are overcrowding, poor food and gang violence.

One big difference between the U.S. and Russia is that we incarcerate almost twice as many people on a per capita basis. I hope that by decrying the brutal conditions that Griner faces in Russia, we can pause to reflect on prison conditions here at home.

Rob Aft, Rancho Park

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To the editor: Let Griner's case be a lesson to anyone who uses drugs — leave them at home.

There are many countries that have harsh penalties for drug smuggling, even in the tiny amount found on Griner's belongings. She is learning this the hard way.

James Tyner, Venice

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.