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?!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

He did not pardon the man. It was a commuted sentence from 108 years to 47 years.

W. E. Messamore said...

Thanks. I've corrected the text in the article, but am leaving the title as it is for the purposes of search engine optimization.

Daryl said...

"Minor drug offenders fill our prisons.
You don't even flinch.
All our taxes paying for your war against the new non-rich." --System of a Down

Teresa said...

I give Huckabee credit. He manned up and took responsibility for commuting his sentence. Unfortunately, people can't be fortune tellers. Like they say, hindsight is 20/20. But, its really the judge in Washington that has blood on his hands.

But, you are right. Our penal system and its laws and sentences are screwed up. The violent crimes need tougher sentences while the drug offenses need rehab instead of jail time. I don't even think getting caught with marijuana is deserving of jail time. Although, I am not up on how much marijuana really effects your brain etc.

W. E. Messamore said...

I dunno- he's done an awful lot of this sort of thing and it doesn't take a fortune teller to know that you should lock up violent, dangerous people who have had their due process, and not commute their sentences and let them roam the streets. And I hear that he's doing a lot of downplaying of his decision and finger pointing at others for this.

I appreciate you saying that about our backwards penal system. As for how much marijuana affects the brain, I don't even think that's an issue. The question is whether an individual should be free to assess that risk and make that decision for himself instead of a nanny state government.

Anonymous said...

It is highly possible that the sentencing judge and prosecutor "assisted" in the murder of those police officers. You wonder how that judge's/prosecutor's offspring would be able to survive in the American prison system for 11 years on a life sentence recklessly meted out at the age of 16 for a purse snatching - and not develop violent or antisocial tendencies? And which rocket scientist lawmaker came up with these sentencing guidelines? Were they appointed or elected? How long do they stay in office?

W. E. Messamore said...

Interesting. Could you link me to some more information about that?

Timothy said...

"why do we let DUI offenders off so comparatively easily,."

Tennessee DUI convictions are far from easily let go.

I have a DUI conviction with a .10 Blood alcohol level. I'm not proud of it, nor do I make any attempt to justify my actions. I did not damage any property and thank God did not harm anyone. I wasn't even pulled over for speeding or swerving, but that's a another story.

This occurred six years ago and based on Tennessee state law I cannot get the charge expunged ever (even though it's a misdemeanor). I will forever have my resume placed on the bottom of the pile based on a mistake that happened in May 2004 regardless of my graduating Cum Laude.

EXAMPLE: I scored very well on a 911 operator job for Nashville Metro safety department 4 years after my conviction (keep in mind there is nothing else on my adult record, not even a speeding ticket) and was told I was disqualified for any position within the safety dept based on my DUI conviction.

So my DUI conviction makes me unable to perform the duties of a 911 operator (like giving a pedophile a job at a daycare right?). I must have an overwhelming urge to drive under the influence constantly and urge others, especially those currently involved in an emergency to do the same.?

In reality, it's just a become a political crime. I'm not taking a pro-DUI stance. I should have been punished, but for the rest of my life?

Feels like I'm being punished for what could have happened, not what happened. Each DUI should be judged on it's own merit so to speak or at least be expunged at some point (10 years in California).

Let's be honest, if the government wanted to stop DUI's, every car manufacturer would be required to have a breathalyzer attached to the ignition of all vehicles. That may raise the vehicle cost a whole 200 hundred dollars or so but would SOLVE the problem. That would however do away with the heavy fines associated with the conviction and we can't have that now can we?

In summation, I agree that marijuana should be legal, but it's difficult to tax. It's about government money! So if you are ever elected to the TN senate (and keep your testicles), please remember my comment and forgive me for it being so lengthy.

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