This killer stays behind bars for now

___After a year of lawsuits from prosecutors and victims' rights groups and coverage in this newspaper, Gov. Huckabee has again withdrawn his offer of clemency to yet another murderer.
___ Last week, Huckabee changed his mind about freeing a high-profile killer named Don Jeffers, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of a Saline County man in 1980. Saline County Prosecutor Robert Herzfeld last year filed a lawsuit tostop Huckabee from letting Jeffers go.
___ It's the first time in living memory that a prosecutor faced down a governor in court. Guess who blinked.
___ "I'm very pleased that the governor had admitted that he was wrong in the first go-round," Herzfeld said Tuesday. His lawsuit, along with pressure from the public, has brought about "a fundamental shift in policy," the prosecutor said. "This was the beginning of the end of the governor's clemency policies," Herzfeld said.
___ "We pointed out flaws in his policies and have garnered public support." Jeffers was never a good candidate for clemency. He has had numerous violations in prison and was put in solitary confinement not long after Huckabee first granted him clemency.
___ The governor has also changed his mind about freeing a demented killer named Glen Green. Back in 1974, Green, a 22-year-old sergeant, kidnapped Helen Lynette Spencer, 18, from Little Rock Air Force Base, where he beat and kicked her as he tried to rape her in a secluded area. She broke loose and ran toward the barracks' parking lot, where he caught up with her and beat her with a pair of nunchucks.
___ He then stuffed her body into the trunk of his car and left her there while he cleaned himself up. Several hours later, he drove down Graham Road, past Loop Road and stopped near a bridge in Lonoke County. Green told investigators he put her body in the front seat and raped her because her body was still warm. He dragged Spencer out of his vehicle and put her in front of the car and ran over her several times, going back and forth. He then dumped her body in Twin Prairie Bayou.
___ After criticism from Jacksonville police and Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain, Huckabee changed his mind on clemency for Green, who can reapply for clemency next summer. The governor lost another round over a killer named Denver Witham, who almost got his walking papers till the Post-Prison Transfer Board overruled the governor and ordered Witham locked up.
___ Huckabee used to think it was his divine right to pardon anyone (and he may still believe that). With the help of a generally friendly Little Rock media, he issued hundreds of pardons and commutations, but they've slowed to a trickle after several egregious pardons of killers and at least one drunk driver, turned against the once popular governor. The Legislature is working on making commutations more difficult, or at least holding the governor accountable.
___ Chances are Huckabee will issue fewer commutations while he's a lameduck, but as his final term winds down, he could still free scores of prisoners just to show he's boss. The voters will remember his record should he run for higher office, which is a long shot anyway, but he's made it an even longer shot with his reckless clemencies.

--- Past Articles

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