Huckabee, prosecutors go on offensive
___They trade jabs over sentencing, pardoning of killers, other thugs

___Several prosecutors around the state are upset with Gov. Huckabee for granting clemency to violent criminals, but he is blaming the prosecutors for often not seeking the maximum penalty and keeping felons locked up longer.
___Until now, Huckabee has refused to comment on his controversial policy of making violent prisoners eligible for parole– they include murderers, armed robbers and rapists, who often return to a life of crime after they're freed – but in a statement to The Leader this week, he lashed out at prosecutors for not doing more to keep prisoners behind bars – to which Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley had this response: "That's a load of baloney."
___ "I'm offended as a prosecutor and as a citizen. He can blame the prosecutors, but ultimately he's the man responsible," Jegley says. "He's the only one who can sign on the dotted line.
___ "All he has to do is look in the mirror and say, 'I let (convicted rapist) Wayne DuMond go free who then killed at least once and probably twice.'"
___ Jegley says the governor ignores the will of the people when he reduces a life sentence without parole that was handed down by a jury.
___ "He has obviously disregarded the jury's decision. It's a crying shame that a sitting governor would be so insensitive to victims' right and disregard the system," says Jegley, who points to several clemency cases where felons went free and then committed more crimes.
___ In addition, Jegley, Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Herzfeld and others have accused Huckabee of violating the state Constitution when he commutes sentences without explanation. The Constitution requires the governor to give reasons why he grants clemency to criminals.
___ "He doesn't do it," insists Herzfeld, who recently had a clemency overturned because Huckabee did not explain why he commuted a murderer's life sentence.
___ Here is Huckabee's response to critics:
___ "Have Robert Herzfeld, Larry Jegley and the other prosecuting attorneys prosecuted every crime to the full extent the law allows? In other words, have they in every case pursued the maximum penalties? Did they ever plea bargain? How often? What's the percentage of cases in which they've accepted less than the maximum penalties allowed by law?
___ "My point is this: They used their discretion to decide they would ask for less punishment than the maximum sentences. They exercised their personal judgment. In about 10 percent of the cases before me, I might use my discretion based on recommendations of the Post Prison Transfer Board, the testimony of officials, prison records, etc.," Huckabee told us.
___ "In those cases, I'm doing the same thing Herzfeld, Jegley and others have done – using my judgment. The difference is that we never know about their plea bargains and the thought processes they used. I have to give public notice, contact all officials and then have a 30-day public comment period.
___ "I'm thinking of trying to get the law changed so prosecutors are required to give notice to all involved, have a 30-day public comment period and seek input prior to a plea bargain or any decision to seek less than the maximum sentences allowed by law," Huckabee says.
___ Prosecutor Jegley is furious with the governor's justification for pardoning killers.
___ "That's pathetic. It's as bogus as any $3 bill out there. Plea bargains are a necessary part of the criminal justice system," Jegley says, but once a sentence is handed down, the governor shouldn't meddle.
___ "Life without parole should mean life without parole," he insists."The governor's use of clemency power in refusing to explain his turning over the will of the people deprives the general public of due process."
___ Herzfeld says, "The governor's statement makes absolutely no sense. It is another example of the governor's disconnection on this issue, and his lame attempts at shifting blame. In the two primary clemency cases I have been working on, the defendants are serving life in prison–that is the maximum penalty possible for first degree murder, the crime for which they were both convicted.
___ "After seven months of fighting the governor to keep murderers behind bars, I am still continually amazed at his actions and words regarding clemency. He just doesn't get it."
___ Jegley cites numerous examples of Huckabee's freeing felons who go on committing more crimes and wind up back in prison.
___ Maurice Clemmons received a 35-year sentence in the early 1990s for armed robbery and theft. His sentence was commuted in May 2000, and he was let out three months later.
___ The following March, Clemmons committed two armed robberies and other crimes and was sentenced to 10 years. You'd think they'd keep him locked up after that, but no: He was paroled last March and is now wanted for aggravated robbery.
___ If Huckabee decides to set these criminals free, Jegley says, at least "he ought to give an accounting. I can't imagine why in the world they'd want them released from jail. There's a good reason we're afraid of them. The sad truth is that a significant number of people re-offend."
___ The victims' families, Jegley says, "deserve an explanation. I look into people's eyes who've suffered the unspeakable. I believe they deserve justice.
___ "People are paying attention," the prosecutor says. "They don't like it. People ask me, 'Why is he letting criminals out of prison?' I tell them I don't know why. I have no earthly idea how come. Maybe he doesn't know what common folk think."
___ Jegley says although he'll never know why Huckabee is releasing hardened criminals, it often helps if they're assigned to the Governor's Mansion.
___ "If you do a good job raking the governor's leaves," Jegley says, "you can go free."

Next: Clemency for Saline County murderers.

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