Families push for reform

Doug Hatcher of Ward, right, joins a Parents of Murdered Children rally Tuesday protest the clemency policies of Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Families push for reforms
By JOHN HOFHEIMER - Leader staff writer

___Unaware that Gov. Mike Huckabee was about to reverse his own clemency policy, members of the Parents of Murdered Children group convened a press conference in Little Rock Tuesday, taking him to task and asking him to reconsider.
___ "We kept our mouths shut pretty long," said Elaine Colclasure, whose husband was murdered July 30, 1989.
___ "We're all scared that our guy (murderer) will be the next one out."
___ Ward resident Doug Hatcher, whose son Jason was shot in the back and murdered 10 years ago in Sherwood by four gang members, has seen two of them freed and another has filed for clemency, he said.
___ When Hatcher ran against Lenville Evans for state representative in November 2002, his platform was to keep violent prisoners in prison. He lost that race.
___ After his son was murdered by gang members in 1993, Hatcher started studying reforms he said were needed in the state prison system.
___ The gang members who murdered his son had prior convictions, but hadn't served a day, Hatcher said.
___ "These clemencies are part of his insanity," he said of the governor. "Anytime he turns one loose without looking at the trial and talking with the victim's family, that's a perversion of justice."
___ He said the pardons and parole board simply considered his son's death gang-on-gang violence, without reading the trial transcripts or learning the facts.
___ "What of Helen Spencer's family," Colclasure asked those at the press conference. "Good behavior in prison doesn't wipe out what you've done. Good behavior and a relationship with Jesus isn't enough."
___ "We have three times as many violent criminals running loose as are in prison," said Hatcher. It's a revolving door he said, citing pardons, paroles, clemencies, time off for good behavior, early release for overcrowding.
___ "This is about punishment," said Hatcher. "It's not about rehabilitation and restoration." "I want to show my support, appreciation and lover for these people's torment and agony, confronted with a governor who doesn't listen," said Robert Herzfeld, the Saline County prosecutor who has opposed the governor on his clemency policies.
___ "He has walled himself away from the victims, the prosecutors–he considers them his enemy. He needs to open his ears, eyes and heart–at the very least meet with the victims and families." "He has a constitutional obligation to give reasons. This is destroying people's faith in government," said Herzfeld.
___ Patty Stafford said her daughter met the governor six weeks prior to her being murdered by the father of the child she was expecting.
___ She said her daughter sang the praises of the governor who now wants to put her murderer back on the street.
___ "You who have never been touched by murder, hug everyone you love," she said.



"We're all scared
our guy (murderer)
will be the next
one out."