As Governor, Huckabee Found Some Prisoners More Pardonable Than Others

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criminal justice, Religion, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

I’ve just learned the man being sought in connection with gunning down four Lakewood, Washington, police officers is an ex-convict who was freed by then Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Maurice Clemmons, the 37-year-old Tacoma man being sought for questioning in the killing this morning of four Lakewood police officers, has a long criminal record punctuated by violence, erratic behavior and concerns about his mental health.

Nine years ago, then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee granted clemency to Clemmons, commuting his lengthy prison sentence over the protests of prosecutors.

Several people have noted that Clemmons didn’t have a record of homicides; his convictions were for burglaries and aggravated assaults. Even so, why would a governor go out of his way to give clemency to a convict over the protests of prosecutors? (I have a theory, which I’ll get to in a minute.)

Josh Marshall points out,

Those with long memories will remember that this is not the first Huckabee commutation with a bad ending. The case of Wayne Dumond got a good deal of attention in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Wayne Dumond was a convicted serial rapist whom Huckabee arranged to be released. After his release, Dumond raped and murdered at least one other woman and possibly others.

I wrote about Dumond and another Arkansas convict, Frankie Parker, almost two years ago in “A Tale of Two Prisoners.” For reasons explained in the earlier post, Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, was pressured by the Christian Right into pardoning Dumond.

But the Christian Right kept silence on Frankie Parker, who was executed in 1996 over the objections of Mother Theresa and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In fact, Governor Huckabee was so keen to execute Frankie Parker that he intervened to move the execution date up by six weeks so that Parker could be executed sooner. He was so keen to execute Parker that moving up the execution date was Huckabee’s first official proclamation as Governor of Arkansas. Clearly, this was an itch that Huckabee was rarin’ to scratch.

It is true that Parker was convicted of committing two murders while under the influence of drugs. He admitted he had done this. He wasn’t asking for a pardon; just life.

What made Frankie Parker’s life so untenable? In prison, he had acquired a copy of the Dhammapada, which inspired him to convert to Buddhism. He corresponded with a Zen priest and also worked with a Little Rock Buddhist group to learn the practice. He became a spiritual leader within the prison. A Buddhist spiritual leader. Can’t have that.

So if people are wondering why Mike Huckabee took it upon himself to grant clemency to Maurice Clemmons, look for a religious angle. I don’t know that there is one, but I’ll be surprised if there isn’t.

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24 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Swami  •  Nov 30, 2009 @2:22 am

    Huckabee gots him a Willy Horton…Maybe he should forget his presidential aspirations and open up a donut shop in Little Rock. For dead cops trumps a rape and murder.

    The Repuglicans need to find an honorable candidate who is morally fit, trustworthy, faithful, and imbued with a selfless spirit…somebody like Rudy Giuliani, a high tower of fidelity and selfless dedication.

  2. Bonnie  •  Nov 30, 2009 @3:23 am

    It’s only important if a Democrat had commuted this guy’s sentence. IOIYAR. BTW, this incident happened close to where I live; and, the latest is that the police have a surrounded a house where Clemmons is thought to be.

  3. c u n d gulag  •  Nov 30, 2009 @8:17 am

    To bad the guy chose to follow Buddha. The Huckster would have pardoned him if he’d chosen to follow Jesus – probably.
    That’s what you get, son. Even if we’re supposed to live in a Baskin-Robbins world of religion in this country, to be on the safe side, you should always choose the vanilla – OR ELSE!!!

  4. joanr16  •  Nov 30, 2009 @9:53 am

    Whoops… Huckabooboo.

    In all seriousness though, this was a terrible shocking crime.

  5. Dave S  •  Nov 30, 2009 @11:19 am

    Yet more tragic deaths in the name of religious bigotry. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, 2000 years ago a man was nailed to a tree for suggesting that everybody please just try to get along together. Huckabee claims to be a follower of this man. Well, he’s not a very good one.

  6. Swami  •  Nov 30, 2009 @12:27 pm

    Pontius Pilate found some prisoners more pardonable than others also. I wonder why Hucky didn’t do the “Give us Bararbbas” thing in granting the pardon to this cop killer. After all, it would be the will of the people who decided to let him go free, so Hucky wouldn’t have their blood on his hands.

  7. Sharp as a sack of hammers  •  Nov 30, 2009 @1:05 pm

    Is it something in the water with these Southern Republicans? Every thing out of Lindsay Graham’s mouth is just more inane than the thing before. Let’s just drop everything to try and fix the mess in Afghanistan. I don’t know who’s worse, the politicians or the people who elect them.

    http://thinkprogress.org/2009/11/30/gop-embrace-afghanistan-healthcare/#comments

  8. buckyblue  •  Nov 30, 2009 @1:22 pm

    I would like to see who else Huckabee pardoned. Does anyone know if this is a common practice amongst governors? The guy outside Seattle seems like a common criminal, plus I think he apparently has a rape charge that Huckabee commutted as well. Not getting why this would be a guy to let out. From the Buddhist angle, if you’re looking for a group that would be least likely to commit another violent crime, Buddhists would be my bet. Not a converted Christian. That seems to be a pre-requisite to some horrible crime. Didn’t this guy think he was Jesus. How many crazy people think they were the Buddha? Maybe in countries where the population practices Buddhism, but I doubt it.

  9. moonbat  •  Nov 30, 2009 @3:10 pm

    I was wondering if Clemons was the same guy as Dumond – thanks for clarifying. It really sounds like Huck’s had his 15 minutes of fame.

    One of the movies I really wanted to see this year (and missed) was The Dhamma Brothers.

  10. maha  •  Nov 30, 2009 @3:26 pm

    To tell you the truth, I didn’t think the Dhamma Brothers film was all that great. It was OK, but I remember walking out of the theater feeling slightly underwhelmed.

  11. Survey Says...  •  Nov 30, 2009 @3:41 pm

    Look – something shiny….
    Find out whose nickel it is, you know pretty much what the numbers are going to say.

    http://wonkette.com/412445/412445#comments

  12. Sam Simple  •  Nov 30, 2009 @6:17 pm

    Huckabee is an ignorant, vulgar rube who wouldn’t be considered qualified to be dogcatcher in most sane states.

  13. Palin/Beck 2012  •  Nov 30, 2009 @6:45 pm

    Go Sarah, Go Sarah, Go Sarah = Woman of the People. Cough Cough Cough – what’s a hairball among friends, EH???

    The jokes just write themselves.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/30/palin-plane-tour-using-pr_n_374084.html

  14. Palin/Beck 2012  •  Nov 30, 2009 @7:10 pm

    We’re gonna need a bigger popcorn bucket..

    http://thinkprogress.org/2009/11/30/tea-party-splinter/

  15. Doug Hughes  •  Nov 30, 2009 @8:18 pm

    From CNN:

    “I come from a very good Christian family and I was raised much better than my actions speak,” Clemmons said in a clemency application brief to then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2000. “I’m still ashamed to this day for the shame my stupid involvement in these crimes brought upon my family’s name.”

    So there it is – Barbara called it. The guy played the ‘repentant christian’ card and Huckabee came up for it like a fish swallowing a worm on a hook. The painful hook is four dead cops. The fact is that the prosecutor who put this guy away vigorously opposed clemancy. I also hear on CNN that the Huck granted more pardons than the governor(s) in the 6 surrounding states – combined. I guess the numbers will come out, but obviously ‘conversion’ to Christianity was a get-out-of-jail card. (As a matter of opinion, I have no problem with factoring in a prison conversion to any sect, but I expect a governor to also factor in reports from prison psychologists, as well as the prosecutor(s) and victims before clemancy. Huckabee seems to have prayed on it and ignored evryone else. He’s screwed.)

    Applying this politically – he won’t run in 2012. A huge chunk of the GOP is the Christian funamentalists, and Huck and Sarah were going to split that in the primaries. Now Sarah will lhave a lock on that crowd, and Mitt the Mutt will try to take any GOP votes that fall out of love with Sarah.

    Of course the news just gets more bizarre as Lou Dobbs dabbles with the idea of running as an Independent, but is trying to mend fences with Latinos and reportedly talking amnesty. Some weeks I read the straight news and wonder if I am having acid flashbacks.

  16. Dave S  •  Nov 30, 2009 @10:55 pm

    Palin/Beck, it really does look like a right-wing Life of Brian, doesn’t it?

  17. idlemind  •  Dec 1, 2009 @9:55 am

    Yup, no surprise here. Redemption tales are bread and butter on the evangelical circuit, so it’s no surprise Huck fell for what was probably a con’s con.

    As for Palin, what’ s with the fear? I think its pretty clear that whatever the attraction she holds for the righties, she’s way too unstable a personality to make it through a presidential campaign. Yeah, her followers will swallow a mile of BS from her, but she’s got a long history of turning against her political allies on a whim whenever she’s under the least amount of pressure. When she no longer has the McCain campaign staff to blame for her problems — but rather her own — she’s going to drive her campaign completely off the rails and ultimately self-immolate. The media absolutely loves her now, but they’ll love covering said meltdown even more.

  18. gary n  •  Dec 1, 2009 @7:08 pm

    I just listened to the Huckster on Hannity and it was quite amusing to to listen to them both try and tap-dance away the facts. Huckleberry – like most other evangelical’s – is about as tolerant of other points of view as the Taliban – they have this “join us or be purged” mentality (just ask Mitt Romney, although he is a devout christian, I guess he was not “right” kind of christian). I hope this sinks his feeble political career once and for all.

  19. Ragnarok 2012  •  Dec 1, 2009 @7:25 pm

    Hi. I’ve been following your links around (and googling a bit), yet I can’t find confirmation that Huckabee pushed the execution date forward for Parker. Would you be able to provide a reference, please?

  20. Dana  •  Dec 2, 2009 @1:40 am

    Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three has also converted to Buddhism in prison. Guess that means he’s a dead duck too.

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