Families push for reform
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
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
___ "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 prosecutorshe considers them his enemy. He needs
to open his ears, eyes and heartat 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,"
___ 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