Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

EDITORIALS>>Huck frees another one

Another killer has been paroled, and questions have been raised about Gov. Huckabee’s involvement. The governor is a well-known champion of inmates seeking clemencies or pardons. Huckabee may not be leading the presidential pack, but he does lead all area governors in the number of violent criminals either he or his handpicked parole board let out over the years.

Remember rapist Wayne Dumond? The governor sprung him out of prison, happy that he was leaving the state. Dumond did leave, going up to Missouri and killing two women, but at least he died in prison there not long after he ended two innocent lives. Sorry about that, governor. Now rumor has it that Huckabee may have interceded on behalf of Michael Webb, who has been trying to get out of prison ever since he was convicted in 1996 of shooting a Sherwood teenager in the back with a rifle. The teen died, and the jury gave Webb 46 years.

But the scuttlebutt is that while the governor was in the hospital about four years ago because of a bad knee, one of the rehab nurses happened to be Webb’s mother. Isn’t this an amazingly small state? While she worked on the governor’s knee, word has it, Huckabee may have given her helpful advice on how to fill out the paperwork, how to “bug” and “befriend” the parole board.

It’s nice to have friends in high places. Look how many killers, rapists and drunks have gone free because they knew the governor or knew someone who could plead their case with an always-understanding Huckabee. Apparently, the trick worked for the Webbs — twice. Webb was first cleared for clemency in 2004, but unfortunately for that family, the victim’s parents went before the governor’s handpicked board, which voted against early parole when the victim’s family told the truth about the murder.

Then just the other day, Webb won parole. His cohorts were released earlier, but that doesn’t justify Webb’s parole, since he probably was the trigger man. Word has it that the governor himself pushed for the release—that way he wouldn’t have to give Webb clemency and have his “tough-on-crime” stance questioned as he runs for president on a law-and-order theme. That stance is being questioned in this case, in the Dumond case and in the hundreds of other cases where the governor has let the criminal element go free.

Forgiveness is one thing, Gov. Huckabee, but coaching a killer’s mom is another. How about showing a little compassion for the Hatcher family, who lost their beloved son in that senseless killing only a decade ago?

We’ve said it before: When the national media learn about this governor’s reckless record of freeing thugs and drunks, his candidacy won’t get out of the starting gate at the Iowa caucus. Let’s hope the voters will also remember his record should he run for another statewide office one day. Here’s hoping the next governor of Arkansas won’t let well-connected killers out of prison before their time is up. The good news is that thanks to term limits, Huckabee will no longer parole anybody after January. That will come as a welcome relief to victims’ families all over the state.