Arkansas - They're not laughing with our governor

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Huckabee retreats on clemencies
By JOHN HOFHEIMER - Leader staff writer
>>> IN SHORT>>> Feeling Presure, Huckabee decides to keep killers locked up, although Glen Green, who murdered a Gravel Ridge teenager, could reapply next year. [FULL STORY]

Families push for reforms
By JOHN HOFHEIMER - Leader staff writer
>>> IN SHORT>>> Just three housrs before the governor's unexpected reversal on his clemency policy, Parents of Murdered Children pourd their hearts out at a rare press conference. [FULL STORY

Kin against clemency
By JOHN HOFHEIMER - Leader staff writer
>>> IN SHORT>>> Helen Spencer was killed 30 years ago. Her family doesn't want the governor to free her killer, while area prosecutors propose more accountability from the governor in the commutation process. [FULL STORY]

Former cop rips pardon
Leader staff writers
>>> IN SHORT>>> However Helen Spencer died, her murderer should spend the rest of his life in prison for his brutal acts. [FULL STORY]

They're not laughing with our governor
____Gov. Huckabee isn't laughing out loud anymore when it comes to the touchy subject of clemencies.
____ Until last week, Huckabee and his staff thought it was pretty funny when a prosecutor criticized one of the governor's all too frequent clemencies. It was nobody's business but Mike's.
____ But after a huge public outcry – and, we understand, pressure from the Bush-Cheney campaign to cool it on the commutations, at least until after the elections – the governor has issued a half-hearted apology for having been less than candid about all those controversial clemencies for friends and for friends of friends.
____ Although he threw a few punches at prosecutors who criticized him publicly, he did say in his statement, sort of, that he was sorry and he would better explain his clemencies in the future.
____For eight years, Huckabee would not tell the people of Arkansas why he was reducing the sentences of convicted felons.
____ "No comment," sniffed his spokesmen.
____ It was none of our business.
____ When it comes to clemencies, he now says "crime victims, their families, the law-enforcement community and citizens in general deserve a more detailed explanation."
____ The statement came about eight years too late, and it's typical Huckabee: Self-pitying, misleading and full of hot air.
____ "I want to do my best to explain this sometimes complex process and how I've carried it out in my eight years as governor," his statement went on.
____ What took you so long, Mike?
____ "I understand the pain crime victims and their families have endured," Huckabee claims, but you wouldn't have guessed it from his sorry record.
____ He wouldn't meet with victims' families and didn't bother telling them about pending clemencies. After he was forced to withdraw his offer of clemency to Glen Green – the former Air Force sergeant who beat his own pregnant wife, then brutally murdered a teenager and dumped her body into the Twin Prairie Bayou – Huckabee pretty much admitted he knew nothing about the case. As is his custom, he had listened to a fellow preacher who pushed for Green's release knowing about as much about the killing as the governor did.
____ Having alienated prosecutors in his own party, coupled with public anger, the governor has changed his mind about two clemencies for two other killers. The public and the media weren't the only ones that had turned against him: Even his Post-Prison Transfer Board had unanimously voted against pardoning Green.
____ Until his dramatic turnabout, he had kept the public in the dark when he was considering clemencies. When he let criminals out of prison, he wouldn't explain why. Huckabee had reasoned, according to his statement, that "if a governor explained his motivation in detail, other inmates would tailor the applications along those lines."
____ Huckabee may not have realized it, but every prisoner knew how to get on the governor's good side. Call it Huckabee's religion test. It's a sure ticket to freedom: Tell him you've found religion.
____ After Huckabee announced Green's clemency, Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain located the relatives of the woman he had killed and they were furious. McCastlain told the governor he was making a terrible mistake and he backed down.
____ He withdrew two other clemencies but two other nasty killers went free last month.
____ He praised McCastlain's professionalism, presumably because she's a Republican, but he still hurled insults at prosecutors who happen to be Democrats. If this has turned into a partisan issue, Huckabee has no one to thank but himself.
____ But he still has plenty of explaining to do: Why did he run up a record-setting number of commutations and clemencies – he would have gone well above 1,000, and perhaps twice that, if we hadn't forced his hand.
____ Why had he not used commutations more judiciously? As the Leader has pointed out, he granted more commutations than his three previous predecessors combined. Did he think insulting or ignoring his critics would silence them and make the problem go away?
____ This is how he operated in the past: He had his staff write insulting letters to his critics. "The governor read you (sic) letter and laughed out loud," wrote a scoundrel named Cory Cox, a Huckabee legal adviser, by way of a reply to Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Herzfeld, who opposed clemency for yet another vicious killer Huckabee took a liking to.

After weeks of negative publicity, Gov. Huckabee and his staff
have stopped laughing at their critics and changed course on their
controversial clemancies.

____ "He wanted me to respond to you. I wish you success as you cut down on your caffeine consumption," Cox signed off mindlessly.
____ But even as Huckabee and his staff gave the public the proverbial finger, Herzfeld went to court and had the clemency overturned, and prosecutors from both parties thought the governor was out of control.
____ Huckabee's announcement last week promising to reform the commutation process basically adopts Herzfeld's proposals that will go before the Legislature for action next year.
____ There were plenty of signs of trouble for Huckabee: Victims' families were outraged, and the media finally took up their cause.
____ All of a sudden, political reality whacked Huckabee in the head, and he was taught a simple civics lesson: Public opinion is more powerful than any one person, especially a lameduck governor who views the public with contempt.
____ But then his record caught up with him: For a while, people gave him the benefit of the doubt as he freed one murderer, then another, and still more after that.
____ Then he took up the cause of a sociopath named Wayne DuMond and pushed for the rapist's early release, which made it possible for him to kill two women in Missouri.
____ More questionable commutations followed, including a free pass for a habitual drunk driver serving a six-year sentence. A wealthy political donor, the felon went free after six months.
____ v Clemencies and commutations for the rich and the well-connected. That's the Huckabee legacy.
____ When the history of his administration is written, it will include pictures of victims' families holding up portraits of their loved ones who were murdered.
____ We haven't seen photos of Wayne DuMond's victims, but they'll turn up one of these days, and we'll send Huckabee a whole gallery of photos that he can display at the Governor's Mansion or in his office at the Capitol.

--- Past Articles

Let us not whitewash governor's Clemencies
____Gov. Huckabee surprised his critics yesterday and admitted he's been wrong.
____ After weeks of pressure from victims' families, prosecutors and this column, Gov. Huckabee has changed his mind about granting clemency to several murderers, including a psychopath who killed a Gravel Ridge woman.

Why parole a monster like Green?
____Gov. Huckabee probably never read the confession of a demented killer named Glen Green before he made the monster eligible for parole.
___ Green's confession is so depraved, its sadistic details so scary that no sane, responsible adult would consider him for parole.

Huckabee's dubious achievement
Governor sets record for clemencies
____Gov. Huckabee is on a roll: He has freed more convicts than all of his recent predecessors combined – more than 10 times as many as Gov. Clinton during a 10-year period from 1983 to 1992. [FULL STORY]

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. [FULL STORY]

Prosecutors seek more openness on pardons
___When you talk to prosecutors around the state, many of them will tell you they're unhappy that Gov. Huckabee pardons criminals without letting law-enforcement officials or victims' families know why he's doing it, as he's required by law.

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 grant- ing clemency to violent criminals, but he is blaming the prosecutors for often not seeking the maximum penalty and keeping felons locked up longer. [FULL STORY]

B.B. goes home then to funeral
___B.B. King didn't seem his usual old self last weekend when he was performing in his hometown of Indianola, Miss.
___ He put on two fine shows in one evening, but he seemed a bit distracted.

Clintons in lovefest with Bush
___If there's anything more unappealing than watching politicians mud wrestle, it's watching them pretend they like each other.
___Oozing insincerity, Presi-dent Bush praised his predecessor on Monday during an unveiling of the Clintons' official (and utterly mediocre) White House portraits.

World-class blues played near here
___A couple of great blues musicians showed up at Sticky Fingerz in Little Rock on Thursday night.
___ Michael Burks, probably Arkansas' most talented young bluesman, dropped in to catch Deborah Coleman and her band and he was impressed.

What if...
Reagan had won in '76
___Millions of words and thousands of images have filled newspapers and television screens since the passing of Ronald Reagan on Saturday.
___Friends, 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 years. [FULL STORY]

These Vets couldn't go to unveiling
___Uncle Albert Jonikas couldn't make it to the dedication of the World War II memorial over the weekend.
___He's 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 STORY]