Wednesday, January 07, 2015

EDITORIAL >> If Huck runs for president

(From a column by Garrick Feldman in The Leader on Nov. 15, 2014, comparing Gov. Mike Beebe’s pardons of his pot smoking son and a sex offender with former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s pardons of violent criminals. Huckabee has given up his talk show on Fox News as he explores a possible run for the presidency.)

Neither pardon is as bad as Huckabee paroling rapist Wayne DuMond and granting clemency to Maurice Clemmons, who, between them, killed six people after Huckabee turned them loose.

Unlike Huckabee, Beebe didn’t pardon violent criminals. Huckabee pardoned killers, rapists, armed robbers and other thugs just about every year he was in office.

He set a record over 12 years: More than 1,100 pardons and clemencies — more than all of Huck’s predecessors combined, going back to the Faubus years.

A mostly friendly media in Little Rock ignored Huckabee’s pardons and clemencies. Huckabee’s much-criticized record on pardons could affect his decision on whether he runs for president in 2016, although he hasn’t always shied away from running before.

Let’s recap: Dumond was released from prison in 1999 at Huckabee’s urging. Dumond, who moved to Missouri a few weeks later, raped and killed two women. He died in a Missouri prison in 2005.

Clemmons received lengthy sentences for a series of holdups and thefts in the 1990s. His sentence was commuted in May 2000, and he was released three months later.

In March 2001, Clemmons committed two armed robberies and other crimes and was sentenced to 10 years. He was paroled in March 2003 but was soon wanted for aggravated robbery.

In 2008, Clemmons killed four law-enforcement officers near Tacoma, Wash., and then shot himself before police could arrest him.

In 2004, we reported that Huckabee planned to pardon a murderer named Glen Martin Green, who had beaten a teenager to death 20 years before.

Green, an Air Force sergeant, had kidnapped Helen Lynette Spencer, 18, of Gravel Ridge while she was visiting a friend at Little Rock Air Force Base. Green beat her to death with martial-arts sticks, ran over her body and dumped her into Twin Prairie Bayou in Lonoke County.

Huckabee usually ignored us when we advised him not to free murderers and rapists, such as Clemmons and Dumond. But Huckabee withdrew his pardon for Green after the outcry that followed our revelations.

Green was in the news again in September, when we reported that he was installing gym equipment at Cabot Junior High North as part of a prison work-release program.

Soon after our report, the Department of Correction announced it would no longer send convicted killers to schools. The Cabot School District has stopped buying equipment from Arkansas Correctional Industries.