Jailhouse conversions and clemency

Did then-governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas pay more attention to a jailhouse conversions and the testimony of pastors than the concerns of therapists and corrections officials when he granted clemency to man who is alleged to have killed four Tocoma-area police officers?

The Associated Baptist Press reports:

As governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee pardoned or shortened sentences of more than 1,000 prisoners, including Maurice Clemmons, a suspect in the murder of four police officers in Washington State. Clemmons, suspected of gunning down four police officers at a coffee shop in a Lakewood, Wash., strip mall Nov. 29, was one of 1,033 people who were pardoned or had sentences reduced during Huckabee’s 10 1/2 years as governor. That was twice as many clemencies as were granted by his three immediate predecessors combined….

…While many of Huckabee’s pardons were recommended by parole boards, in some he overrode objections of prosecutors, judges and victims’ families and followed recommendations of Baptist preacher friends who vouched for petitioning inmates by claiming they had been born again.

The Arkansas Leader began writing about Huckabee’s commutations in 2004 and wrote on December 4, 2009:

He acted always out of Christian charity, (Huckabee) said. He said he knew that the politically safe thing to do was to rarely use his clemency power, as Bill Clinton, Jim Guy Tucker and Mike Beebe seldom did, but the Bible instructed him to be compassionate and to forgive.

We never quarreled with his compassion but with his judgment. If a convict could get the governor’s ear and convince him that he had found Jesus and turned his life around or he could get a preacher to intercede with the governor, he was apt to go free.

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