The District lets people get away with murder.

A Sept. 16 Metro story reported that a 20-year-old was sentenced to 15 years in jail, the maximum sentence, for acting as a lookout in last summer's murder of Adrien Alstad, a Dupont Circle area waiter. The judge added seven years to that sentence for another robbery. The 15-year-old who pulled the trigger and murdered Mr. Alstad will be under city supervision until age 21 under the city's guidelines. In fact, his sentence could be even lighter, but we will never know because the record is sealed -- because of his age. I'm not saying that the lookout's sentence was too harsh. I'd rest easier if he were kept in jail well beyond the age of 42. But I am appalled by a criminal justice system that metes out a cut-rate sentence to someone solely based on age.

A 15-year-old thug who guns down an innocent person in cold blood should not be handled with kid gloves. The disparate sentences given to the two responsible for Mr. Alstad's murder should spur the mayor or a D.C. Council member to push for legislation to ensure that all violent criminals, no matter what their age, pay the full price for their crimes.

BRIGID QUINN

Washington