Arkansas - Arkansas clemencies
outpace other states
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
clemencies outpace other states
© 2004, Leader Newspapers
you're wondering how Gov. Huckabee's hundreds of clemencies compare
with neighboring states, get ready for a shocker.
Huckabee leads the pack.
He has issued more commutations and pardons than all of the six neighboring
From 1996 through July 2004, Arkansas had more clemencies
than all neighboring states combined. One-third of Texas clemencies
were for people convicted with planted evidence.
seldom reduce sentences in other states and almost never for
murderers serving life without parole or for rapists or for habitual
drunk drivers, while in Arkansas it's a regular habit with Huckabee.
Other governors use their clemency power only rarely, while Huckabee
has made it routine. As we've told you before, he has issued more than
700 pardons and commutations during his eight years in office
more than 137 this year alone and more than his three predecessors
Here are the figures for neighboring states since 1996, when Huckabee
took office (and keep in mind the population of these states is nearly
20 times ours):
>> Louisiana 213.
>> Mississippi 24.
>> Missouri 79.
>> Oklahoma 178.
>> Tennessee 32.
>> Texas 98
(in-cludes 36 inmates released because they were convicted on drug charges
with planted evidence).
Total: 624 vs. Huckabee's 703.
Governors in neighboring states almost never grant killers clemency,
while Huckabee has commuted the sentences of a dozen murderers.
"That is extremely rare here," said one corrections official
in a neighboring state.
She recalled one case in the early 1990s when the governor commuted
a killer's sentence and none since then.
In Texas, we could find only one clemency case for a killer.
are rare, even though its prison population is 12 times bigger than
ours. Half of the pardons in 2003 were for fraudulent convictions.
Gov. Clinton granted
426 pardons and commutations, but he issued far fewer after he returned
to office in 1983. That trend toward fewer clemencies continued in the
1980s under two other governors, but Gov. Huckabee has accelerated the
number of clemencies and go over 1,000 if the trend continues.
Governors in the states we studied grant clemencies only on special
occasions, such as when they leave office. Last January, after Mississippi
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, a Democrat, lost his re-election bid, he issued
16 clemencies, and there was a huge outcry. That's how many Huckabee
averages per month.
By contrast, Haley Barbour, Mississippi's new Republican governor, has
issued no clemencies all year, nor has Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Louisiana's
new governor, a Democrat.
In Tennessee, Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, has issued no clemencies
since he took office in January 2003.
Rex Nelson, Huckabee's communications director, has tried to put a positive
spin on his boss' sorry record.
"The application process varies from state to state," Nelson
told the Leader. "There is no rhyme or reason. It's an apples-to-oranges
comparison. The only real comparison is Arkansas governors and the percent
they (commute) compared to prison population. Texas has constitutionally
one of the weakest governors in the nation."
Actually, our comparisons are fair and accurate, and the Huckabee record
looks bad no matter which governor you compare him with over the last
Is it any wonder that Arkansas prosecutors from both parties are upset
with Huckabee, a Republican?
Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Herzfeld, a long-time critic
of Huckabee's clemencies and a Democrat, said, "These facts de-monstrate
that our governor has an extremely skewed approach to granting executive
clemency. He seems to believe that granting clem-ency to murderers,
rapists, drunk drivers and other convicted criminals is a part of the
everyday affairs of the governor's office rather than something that
he should approach cautiously and selectively. Executive clemency should
be rare, and there should be very specific reasons."
Herzfeld continued, "Although he has promised to reform his clemency
procedures because of tremendous public outrage these past few months,
this governor has not promised to decrease the number of clemencies
"Hopefully, when he sees these numbers, Gov. Huckabee will be shocked
into reality, and come to understand that he is inexcusably out of sync
with not only the people of Arkansas, but also his fellow governors,"
When he was told about the clemencies in neighboring states, Pulaski
County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley, another Democrat, said, "They
confirm my original instinct that clemencies (in Arkansas) are
used on a wholesale basis. The power of clemency is not being used in
a circumspect and judicious fashion. I'm still dumbfounded looking at
the numbers in the neighboring states."
Although Herzfeld is skeptical about Huckabee's promise to be more open
when he considers clemencies in the future, the governor has had a rude
awakening as victims' families and the Legislature are pushing to restrain
the governor's clemency powers.
Jegley and Herzfeld agree that clemencies are not always wrong, but
granting them without restraint makes a mockery of the jury system and
Until our series of columns, Huckabee ignored his critics and kept on
issuing more pardons and commutations.
But he has now withdrawn several clemencies for murderers and may slow
the pace of clemencies in the future.
Huckabee has never leveled with the public about why he has issued more
clemencies than his three predecessors combined or all of his
fellow governors in the surrounding states.
"I still believe in the power of clemencies," Jegley said.
"They're what make the judicial system great. They're an escape
valve that can set the process close to right in the unlikely event
something goes wrong (during the prosecution of a case)."
But, he says, Huckabee has gone overboard and has made clemencies look
like acts of favoritism. During all his years in office, the only time
Huckabee has claimed a miscarriage of justice was in the case of Wayne
DuMond, who he thought had been framed for rape.
Although Huckabee changed his mind about commuting DuMond's sentence,
DuMond went free after the governor met with his parole board.
DuMond is now serving a life sentence for murder in Missouri, where,
the record shows, it's unlikely the governor will pardon him any time
not laughing with our governor
Huckabee isn't laughing out loud anymore when it comes to the touchy subject
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. [FULL
Let 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