Governor goes own way on pardons

___Prosecutors across Arkansas have had their differences with Gov. Huckabee's generous pardons policy, but what bothers them the most is Huckabee's superior attitude when they dare to object.
___ The governor often doesn't even alert prosecutors when he commutes the sentences of killers serving life sentences without parole, but when prosecutors contact him, he's contemptuous of these professionals who know a lot more about criminals than Huckabee thinks he knows.
___ Prosecutors from both political parties find his clemencies and his patronizing comments equally appalling.
___ In his letters to prosecutors, he sounds irritated, as if he were above criticism, which he probably thinks he is.


___ The governor would prefer the public didn't know how many pardons he has issued since he took office in 1996.
___ Huckabee told us last month that he issues clemencies and commutations in only about 10 percent of the cases that come before him.
___ But Huckabee's office would not give us the exact number.
___ His spokesman said the governor's office does not keep a record of the pardons, which is unbelievable. You'd think something that important would at least be stored in someone's computer there.
___ We checked with the secretary of state's office, the official keeper of such records. Huckabee has granted more than 700 pardons and clemencies since he took office, which is a lot more than most people might have guessed.
___ You can see why prosecutors are unhappy with him, and since Huckabee is a lame duck, they predict a steep rise in the number of clemencies before he leaves office.
___ Huckabee almost never gives a reason for his clemencies, although he'll offer a hint now and then that the criminals have been rehabilitated, or he'll even suggest they're innocent and should go free, as he did in the case of convicted rapist Wayne DuMond, who then murdered a couple of Missouri women after his release.
___ He had considered offering DuMond clemency, but the public uproar and, yes, pressure from the local prosecutor resulted in Huckabee instead arranging a pardon for DuMond with the state Post Prison Transfer Board.
___ Huckabee thinks he is better informed than the prosecutors, and, what's more, he shows a complete lack of empathy for the victims and their families.
___ Instead, he'll let a foolish young man named Cory Cox, his deputy legal counsel and adviser on criminal justice, write an obnoxious letter like this one to Saline County Prosecutor Robert Herzfeld, who objected to one of Huckabee's pardons:
___ "The governor read you (sic) letter and laughed out loud," Cox wrote about a life-and-death situation that somehow amused Huckabee – or maybe he didn't really laugh out loud and Cox was just making it up, trying to sound clever.
___ Cox should have been fired in any case, either for disclosing the governor's morbid sense of humor or simply lying about it.
___ "He wanted me to respond to you," Cox continued, ending with this zinger: "I wish you success as you cut down on your caffeine consumption."
___ Why is young Corey Cox still on the state payroll?
___ And we wonder why state government is dysfunctional.


Next: How victims' families are mistreated

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