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Clemmons was part of a pattern of negligence [Updated]

Matthew Yglesias has an incomplete point. There was nothing unreasonable, on the surface, about Mike Huckabee’s granting clemency to a someone given 60 years for burglaries committed when he was 17.

Unless Huckabee commuted Maurice Clemmons sentence when the court record showed Clemmons had demonstrated a propensity for violence and there was no evidence he had been rehabilitated.

Exactly:

The circuit court made its foregoing findings and decision to grant postconviction relief based on pretrial events that occurred at Clemmons’s burglary and theft trial held before Judge Floyd Lofton. Clemmons’s defense counsel, Llewellyn J. Marczuk, testifying at the postconviction hearing, related that, at the earlier trial, a security guard had reported to Judge Lofton that Clemmons had taken a hinge from one of the courtroom doors, hid it in his sock, and intended to use it as a weapon. The hinge was found and taken from him before he harmed anyone. In another incident, Clemmons extracted a lock from a holding cell, and he later threw the lock which hit his mother. During this second episode, Clemmons purportedly threatened Judge Lofton. In a third incident, Clemmons reportedly reached for a guard’s pistol during his transportation to the courtroom. Based on these occurrences, Judge Lofton placed Clemmons in leg irons and seated a uniformed officer near him during trial. This court upheld Judge Lofton’s remedial actions in Clemmons. 303 Ark. at 267-269, 795 S.W.2d at 928-929.

Recidivism quickly made Clemmons a frequently cited example of Huckabee’s recklessness with commutations and pardons. Garrick Feldman of the Arkansas Leader wrote in June of 2004:

[Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry] Jegley cites numerous examples of Huckabee’s freeing felons who go on committing more crimes and wind up back in prison.

Maurice Clemmons received a 35-year sentence in the early 1990s for armed robbery and theft. His sentence was commuted in May 2000, and he was let out three months later.

The following March, Clem-mons committed two armed robberies and other crimes and was sentenced to 10 years. You’d think they’d keep him locked up after that, but no: He was paroled last March and is now wanted for aggravated robbery.

If Huckabee decides to set these criminals free, Jegley says, at least “he ought to give an accounting. I can’t imagine why in the world they’d want them released from jail. There’s a good reason we’re afraid of them. The sad truth is that a significant number of people re-offend.”

The victims’ families, Jegley says, “deserve an explanation. I look into people’s eyes who’ve suffered the unspeakable. I believe they deserve justice.

The record suggests that Huckabee recklessly ignited the cycle of criminality which has had a variety of horrific consequences, possibly including the execution-style murder of four Lakewood, Washington, policemen.

Update

Nothing in the parole documentation suggests [.pdf] that the propensity for violence revealed in court papers was considered.

Clemmons was fatally shot by Seattle, Washington, police while being taken into custody Tuesday in connection with the Sunday slaying of four Tacoma, Washington, police officers.

Huckabee blistered for passing the buck by Joel Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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November 30, 2009 - Posted by | Crime, Politics | , , , ,

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