Let’s see how loud Bill O’Reilly yells about Mike Huckabee over this issue. Former Governor Mike Huckabee’s decision to commute the sentence of Maurice Clemmons in Arkansas nine years ago was over the protests of prosecutors. The Seattle Times quoted the Arkansas prosecutor as saying, “”This is the day I’ve been dreading for a long time.” Huckabee released a statement to the effect that:
“…if Clemmons is found responsible for the murders, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State. He was recommended for and received a commutation of his original sentence from 1990. This commutation made him parole eligible and he was then was paroled by the parole board once they determined he met the conditions at that time. He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him.” [Clemmons’ lawyer had the charges dropped on the technicality of Arkansas failing to serve arrests warrants for the robbery for which he was returned to prison until three years later.] Huckabee’s statement concluded with, “It appears that he has continued to have a string of criminal and psychotic behavior but was not kept incarcerated by either state.”
According to the Times, Clemmons was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 1990 for burglary and theft, when he was 18 years old, while already serving another 48-year prison sentence, and facing the possibility of an additional 95 years behind bars on separate charges. Huckabee commuted that sentence, citing Clemmons’ age as a mitigating factor.
Huckabee had previously come under fire for his intervention on behalf of Wayne DuMond in 1985. DuMond was convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl with reported connections to then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. DuMond was sentenced to life in prison, plus 20 years for the 1984 rape. In 1992, then-Governor Jim Guy Tucker reduced that sentence to 39 years, making DuMond eligible for parole. (DuMond claims he was castrated at his home by masked men while awaiting trial on these rape charges.)
In 1996, when Huckabee became governor, he said he had doubts about DuMond’s guilt and considered commuting his sentence to time served, but decided against it when the victim and her supporters protested. However, according to the Kansas City Star, Huckabee wrote a letter in 1997 to DuMond saying “My desire is that you be released from prison,” and DuMond was granted parole less than a year later. DuMond was subsequently arrested for murder and sexual assault, and was the suspect in a second murder and rape.
While Huckabee’s office denied the governor influenced the parole board’s decision in the DuMond case, there was evidence to contradict that claim. In a December, 2007, Los Angeles Times story, Arkansas parole officials claim Huckabee pressured them for DuMond’s release.
According to the Times story, a Pastor named Jay D. Cole was close friends with DuMond and Huckabee. Cole often visited DuMond in prison, and DuMond’s wife lived in Cole’s home for a period of time. Cole’s friendship with Mike Huckabee began when Huckabee became the head of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, and who “…worked heavily with him when he got politically involved.”
In 2007, Huckabee told CNN, “For people to now politicize these deaths and to try to make a political case out of it, rather than to simply understand that a system failed and that we ought to extend our grief and heartfelt sorrow to these families, I just regret that politics is reduced to that.”
To be “fair and balanced” here, this does mirror the uproar back in the ’80s when, under then-Governor Michael Dukakis, convicted murderer Willie Horton was released on a Massachusetts weekend furlough program in 1986, and failed to return. In April of 1987, Horton pistol-whipped, knifed and brutally raped a woman, and bound and gagged her fiancé, escaping in the fiance’s car. Dukakis was taken to task for vetoing a bill that would have refused furloughs to first-degree murderers. The furlough program in Massachusetts was abolished in Dukakis’ final term in office in 1988. The LawrenceEagle-Tribune and two reporters won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for their series on Massachusetts furlough system, which prodded the abolishment of the program and effectively destroyed Dukakis’ bid for president.
Huckabee recently announced that he enjoyed his new job at Fox News, and would be less likely to consider another presidential run. This recent turn of events may put the last nail on that coffin.
Sources and References: CBSNews;LA Times; North County Times; Eagle Tribune;