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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mike Huckabee Pardon Controversy

Former Arkansas Governor and 2008 Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee's clemency record has come back to haunt him yet again, kick starting a torrential firestorm of controversy after a violent felon whose sentence was commuted by Mike Huckabee murdered four policemen.

As many commentators have repeated over and over, after something like this, he can more or less kiss any prospects of a 2012 run goodbye. The pundits have also been quick to remind us that this was not Huckabee's first "Willie Horton" moment.

(Interestingly, the day this story broke, I had already published an extensive list of criticisms of Mike Huckabee that included his commutation of a convicted rapist who went on to rape and murder a woman in Arkansas' neighboring state of Missouri.)

But there's a bigger story and a bigger picture here than Mike Huckabee's terrible record of leniency on hardened, violent criminals, and how it will affect any prospects he has of a 2012 presidential bid. That story is our entire country's upside-down system of punishments and legal sanctions against criminals.

At this moment, America is jailing record numbers of its population, with far more incarcerations than any other country in the world. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics one fifth of state prison populations were held for drug crimes in 2005, and "Drug offenders, up 37%, represented the largest source of jail population growth between 1996 and 2002."

Why is it that the United States feel the need to harass and jail casual drugs users at every step of way, while so many states bend over backwards to put truly violent, truly dangerous, truly hardened criminals back onto our streets to rape and murder again and again? Does that make any sense at all?

And while punishing someone for the simple and in itself, nonthreatening act of possessing a small amount of marijuana, why do we let DUI offenders off so comparatively easily, who actually endanger others by operating automobiles in a state of incapacitation? All of this just seems completely unjust, immoral, and stupidly impractical to me.

The very hour this violent thug was on the streets murdering policemen, someone was sitting in a cell for a small amount of pot. If their places had been switched, the drug "offender" would have gone home and smoked with some friends while listening to music and the policemen would have gotten to live and enjoy their lives and families.

Why on that day was the drug offender in a cell and the violent thug allowed to roam our streets? How isn't that the most backward, the most impractical, the most unjust, the most stubbornly stupid way to run a police force and justice system? Someone, answer me, how?!