killer stays behind bars for now
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 Huckabee has again withdrawn his offer of clemency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
"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.
Clintons in lovefest with Bush
there's anything more unappealing than watching politicians mud wrestle,
it's watching them pretend they like each other.
insincerity, President Bush praised his predecessor on Monday during an
unveiling of the Clintons' official (and utterly mediocre) White House
Reagan had won in '76
of words and thousands of images have filled newspapers and television
screens since the passing of Ronald Reagan on Saturday.
colleagues, politicians and scholars have discussed every facet of his
remarkable life: How he started out poor, became a Holly-wood star, found
a second career on television, then a third as a corporate spokesman,
and yet another, more spectacular career as a politician.
His life has been thoroughly examined this week, but one crucial period
and its consequences are virtually overlooked: His losing out to President
Ford for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 1976, which,
it could be argued, helped the Soviets stay in power for several more
These Vets couldn't go to unveiling
Albert Jonikas couldn't make it to the dedication of the World War II
memorial over the weekend.
an 84-year-old veteran of the Second World War who saw action in the Pacific
- Iwo Jima, Saipan, Okinawa, which was near where the Japanese surrendered
- but he doesn't get around much anymore. [FULL