Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Pardon Me

Mike Huckabee did a base thing.
The Des Moines Examiner was quick on a list of Huckabee pardoned re-offenders. Somebody had opposition research on the Huckster handy for just the right opportunity. Below is an excerpt.....

Clemmons is just one of 1,103 criminals who were granted clemency by Huckabee. 163 got out of prison early because of Huckabee's actions. Twelve of them were murderers. Several went back to a life of crime, with at least 9 percent going back to prison. Prosecutors and victims often objected to the clemencies.

The reoffenders include:

--Wayne Dumond, a convicted rapist of a teenager, was freed after Huckabee pressured the parole board. He later was found guilty of murder in Missouri.

--Eugene Fields, convicted for DWI. Two years after having his sentence reduced by Huckabee, he was arrested for a new DWI charge. Teresa Belew, director of Arkansas Mothers Against Drunk Driving, publicly complained about Huckabee’s clemency. Huckabee sent her a letter, suggesting that MADD was trying to “fan the flames of controversy that have been stirred in this case by the unusual curiosity of certain media members.”

--Wade Stewart, sentenced to life in prison for murder. He had 35 disciplinary marks on his prison record, but was released after Huckabee made him eligible for parole in 2004. He was later convicted on a weapons charge and felony theft.

Other violent criminals given clemency by Huckabee:

--Denver Witham, convicted of beating a man to death with a lead pipe

--Robert A. Arnold, Jr., convicted of killing his father-in-law.

--Willy Way, Jr., pled guilty to shooting a grocery store owner, while the owner's wife looked on.

--James Maxwell, murdered a reverend. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, when the reverend's daughter pleaded with Huckabee to deny clemency, Huckabee "affectionately referred" to her father's killer as "Jim".

--Bobby Ray Fretwell, sentenced to death for the murder of an elderly man. Huckabee commuted the sentence to life in prison.

Other notorious clemencies:

--John Henry Claiborne, sentenced to 100 years for robbing two elderly neighbors at gunpoint. The Rev. Charles Williams, pastor of a Little Rock church, wrote a letter to the governor on the inmate’s behalf. “Everybody knows that Mike Huckabee makes up his mind what to do by what God tells him to do,” Williams said later.

--Donald Clark, convicted of nine burglary charges in four counties. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison in 1996. Huckabee commuted his sentence to time served in 2001.

--David Hale, former judge who was sentenced to two years and four months for his role in the Whitewater scandal. Later found guilty of lying to state insurance regulators in a separate case and sentenced to only 21 days in prison. Huckabee commuted the sentence to time served.

--Trent Harmon, Jr., convicted of first-degree battery. Anglin caused permanent brain damage to his victim in 1996 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Huckabee cut the sentence to time served in 2001.

-Elizabeth Diane Hagar, convicted of manslaughter in the 1997 shooting death of her husband. Sentenced to 10 years by the trial judge. Huckabee ordered her release in 2003.

Attempted clemencies that were blocked:

--Don Jeffers, pleaded guilty to first degree murder for a 1980 killing and was sentenced to life in prison. In 2004, Huckabee wanted to make Jeffers immediately eligible for parole. The prosecutor sued Huckabee over this clemency, and a judge voided the clemency.

--Glen Martin Green, who beat an 18-year-old pregnant woman with Chinese martial-arts sticks, raped her as she barely clung to life, ran over her repeatedly with his car, then dumped her in the bayou. He was sentenced to life in prison, but Huckabee was convinced by Rev. Johnny Jackson, who had close ties to Huckabee, that Green had found God and did not mean to kill the woman.

--Dennis Lewis, fatally shot a store owner during a robbery. Huckabee reversed himself in the Green and Lewis clemencies following public outcry.

Huckabee very rarely offered reasons for his numerous clemencies, although he was required by state law to do so. His pattern of clemencies usually fell into four categories:

The justice system treated them more harshly than most.

They knew a person who had known the governor.

They worked at the Governor’s Mansion.

A minister interceded for them.


Anonymous tophat said...

Huckabee has a math problem: The odds were simply against him on this-- with that many commutations, there was bound to be at least a dozen or so recalcitrant criminals who would be released only to offend again. In fact, I'm sure we haven't heard the end of this ordeal. There will probably be others still.

9:11 AM, December 02, 2009  
Anonymous c.b. said...

Before I begin, I feel compelled to qualify my comments by stating that I am far from a Huck-ite & have my disagreements with him on fiscal policy & social "compassion", et al.

Yet, I fear sometimes this blog has a knee-jerk reaction to anything Huckabee.
In the spirit of fairness & loyalty to the truth, you should be more dilligent to make sure readers are aware of the huge difference between a pardon & a commutation, instead of throwing around the ambiguous term "clemency" as if all these offenders were unconditionally released/forgiven.
Also, what do you say to Huckabee's explanations of how Arkansas' system brings many more of these requests before it's governor than other states(over 1,200 a year), and that 92% are denied.

The hard numbers actually look pretty good for him; If, of the 8% granted some form of clemency, only 9% returned to prison that would be a mistake rate of 0.72%. Now another question is, what was their repeat offenses? I don't know, but the point is they went back to prison. The over-riding question is how many returned to violent crime? We know of two; Dumond & Clemmons.
So, if there were an average of 1,200 requests a year for his 10 years in office, that is 12,000 requests. 2 out of 12,000 a failure rate of 0.0166%.

The problem is, how do you tell that to the victims' families.....
There can be no doubt that these are the saddest of Huckabee's mistakes, but in those of policy he is much more culpable.

Politically though, this issue could be the the last nail in the coffin of his (as yet) unconfirmed presidential aspirations, because as we all know; Perception Is Reality.

11:06 AM, December 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

c.b., I don't know that anyone cares to judge a governor's record on pardons/clemencies/commutations with cold stats like they would some MLB baseball player. Rather, it's a no-tolerance affair, as it should be, because it's a serious matter. If a governor for some reason feels compelled to enable a convicted criminal to evade his sentence, that governor, at a minimum, had better be absolutely certain that said criminal will never offend again. If he's not absolutely sure, then he has no business meddling in the affairs of the justice system, which is a bad enough system as it is without bleeding hearts denying victims what little justice is afforded them nowadays.

1:15 PM, December 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yah Yah Yah we know ya hate Huckabee. Big news!

3:29 PM, December 02, 2009  
Anonymous c.b. said...

Anoyn 1:15,
I think I made it plain that I feel for the families. I pray to God that it will never happen again, but cold, hard facts are just that.

You say one should be "Absolutely Certain" that a convict will "never offend again". That is impossible. Only God could tell you that. Since you are not Him then you would have to do the same thing I would..... use your best judgement & all the information you have at your diposal.
I'm as "tough-on-crime" as the next guy but to say "No Tolerance" just shows your ignorance. We have a human system and it has human flaws....always will.

I'm not an expert on the Clemmons case but with the facts as I understand them, I say;
1. Washington authorities should have put him away years ago & never should've granted him bail.
2. Reducing a maximum sentence(108 years) given to a 16 year old for burglary/assault & make him eilgible for his case to be reviewed by a parole board does not sound "bleeding-heart" to me.

4:30 PM, December 02, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

c. b.

and all.

I wish that my columns about ideas got 1/2 the comments as the ones about persons. In this case, it is not my column. I said I was EXCERPTING a Des Moines column that I described as coming from oppo research. That is not a ringing endorsement of the thing is it?

This is a big national story with an Arkansas angle. It deserves some coverage here (especially considering how sparse my posts have been, a virus got us just before Thanksgiving).

try that one for a letter from a prosecutor begging Huckabee to change his ways on this stuff.

I am anti-nanny state and so that makes me opposed to most of MH's policies, but on this issue AW is about the middle of the pack on coverage. No more anti-huck than the average report. The average report paints this as a bad thing because it IS a bad thing.

6:56 PM, December 02, 2009  
Anonymous c.b. said...

I will accept your admonishment concerning comments on ideas vs. persons.
Just know that many times(at least in my case) the lack of comment doesn't reflect a lack of interest, as much as it means that I'm so fully in agreement that I do not feel compelled to add anything to it.
Often, when you are through there's nothing left to be said.... How's that for stroking the moderators ego??!! LOL

7:47 PM, December 02, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I am humbled by your kind words and ashamed that I said anything that you might consider an "admonishment" on the matter.

8:43 PM, December 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say one should be "Absolutely Certain" that a convict will "never offend again". That is impossible. Only God could tell you that. Since you are not Him then you would have to do the same thing I would..... use your best judgement & all the information you have at your diposal.

c.b., meddling in the justice system is a power granted to the governor by the constitution, but it is by no means a duty or an obligation that he must perform. So if he decides take it upon himself to meddle, he'd better be absolutely certain he knows what he's doing. In contrast, a judge (for example) must make decisions in dispensing justice and must therefore be afforded a measure of empathy and understanding for occasional failures in evaluating the character and intent of ostensibly penitent criminals. But if the governor takes it upon himself to intervene in the process, he'd better know what he's doing.

I believe this is why, in the public mind, a "Willi Horton" event is an inexcusable occurrence.

Having said all that, I believe that Governor Huckabee acted reasonably in the Clemmons case, but that subsequent failures in the justice system of two states somehow resulted in the preponderance of blame being roped around Huckabee's neck. But his handling of this political crisis is arguably worse than his actual culpability upon close examination of the facts.

Notwithstanding, as pointed out earlier, the sheer math in the prolific number of commutations granted by Huckabee was bound to result in several instances like Clemmons slipping through the cracks and coming back to haunt him.

10:16 PM, December 02, 2009  
Anonymous c.b. said...

I concur that the possibility remains for more instances like these & if there is more, it would no doubt derail any national political aspirations.

On the governor's duties; Maybe we're splitting hairs on this, but if "absolute certainty" were the benchmark then there would be no provision for these kind of decisions at all. Simply leave everyone ever convicted of ANY crime to serve their maximum sentence period. That would do it. Shoot, the only way I can be absolutely certain that YOU won't offend is to go ahead and send you up as well...... :-)

I started to point out earlier what you brought up in your last post; That the constitution provides for these kind of interventions.... Therefore it would be a misnomer to tag it as "meddling".
Meddling(in my book) is what liberals are doing with healthcare.

7:14 AM, December 03, 2009  

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