Arkansas - They're not
laughing with our governor
Huckabee retreats on clemencies
JOHN HOFHEIMER -
Leader staff writer
Feeling Presure, Huckabee decides to keep killers locked up, although
Glen Green, who murdered a Gravel Ridge teenager, could reapply next year.
Families push for reforms
JOHN HOFHEIMER -
Leader staff writer
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
Kin against clemency
JOHN HOFHEIMER -
Leader staff writer
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
Former cop rips pardon
By JOHN HOFHEIMER
AND RICK KRON
However Helen Spencer died, her murderer should spend the rest of his
life in prison for his brutal acts. [FULL
not laughing with our governor
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.
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
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
"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
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.
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
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
us not whitewash governor's Clemencies
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.
parole a monster like Green?
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
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
goes own way on pardons
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
seek more openness on pardons
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. [FULL
prosecutors go on offensive
trade jabs over sentencing, pardoning of killers, other thugs
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
B.B. goes home then to funeral
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. [FULL
Clintons in lovefest with Bush
there's anything more unappealing than watching politicians mud wrestle,
it's watching them pretend they like each other.
insincerity, Presi-dent Bush praised his predecessor on Monday during
an unveiling of the Clintons' official (and utterly mediocre) White House
World-class blues played near here
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. [FULL
Reagan had won in '76
of words and thousands of images have filled newspapers and television
screens since the passing of Ronald Reagan on Saturday.
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
These Vets couldn't go to unveiling
Albert Jonikas couldn't make it to the dedication of the World War II
memorial over the weekend.
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