The Facts about the Maurice Clemmons case, and Governor Mike Huckabee
While Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee DID NOT PARDON this man, nor did he release the man onto the streets.
1. In the state of Arkansas, the Governor DOES NOT initiate any actions of clemency, the parole board does.
2. In this case, the file of an individual who committed burglary to a home and unarmed robbery at the age of 16 was convicted to 108 years in prison. (an abnormally excessive time for anyone for these crimes, especially a minor) was sent to the Governor after the individual had served 10 years of his sentence (again a longer than normal length of time) by the parole board along with the recommendation with 5-0 voting in favor of commuting his sentence.
3. A notice of intent to commute was sent to the prosecutor, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the judge in the case, and all others that are required by law to receive it, including a public notice.
4. Not one single objection was raised to the commuting of the sentence, because it was abnormally excessive.
5. Two letters in support of commuting the sentence came including one from the judge in the case who said that he strongly supported the commutation.
6. The sentence was commuted based on the facts in the case and the recommendations of the board and judge.
7. The sentence was commuted to 47 years, not to time served, thus making him eligible for parole, NOT setting him free.
8. Three months later the parole board, decided that he met the conditions for parole and he was paroled at that time, the Governor's office played NO role in that, and had no role going forward.
9. The next year the individual committed another crime and was returned to prison, where he should have stayed until 2015 for violating his parole. However, the prosecutor did not file the paper work and Clemmons was released again, and moved to Washington.
10. While in Washington he committed several more crimes, this time some were violent and some not, but he was never held and the prosecutor in Arkansas waived the no-bail warrant (since he would have violated parole and not been allowed bail) thus giving the judges the freedom to grant bail, which they did, and he posted.
Then he went on to commit the horrible acts of killing 4 honorable police officers.
The Tragedy in Washington State
By Mike Huckabee
The nation was stunned by the senseless and savage cold-blooded murders of four young police officers in Lakewood , Washington over the Thanksgiving holiday. Whenever a police officer or soldier is killed, the loss is even more profound for they are the ones who stand between our way of life and total anarchy.
Nine years ago, the name Maurice Clemmons crossed my desk. I commuted his sentence from 108 years to 47 years. I take full responsibility for my actions of nine years ago. I acted on the facts presented to me in 2000. If I could have possibly known what Clemmons would do nine years later, I obviously would have made a different decision. If I ONLY had the same information I had then, I would make the same decision.
Each state is different, in Arkansas , a governor doesn’t initiate a parole—the Post Prison Transfer Board (PPTB) does after it conducts a thorough review of an inmate’s file and request. The board then makes a recommendation to the governor, who decides to grant or deny it. If the decision is made to grant any form of clemency (the broad term for a commutation or a full pardon), the governor gives notice of intent and the file is sent to the prosecutor, judge, law enforcement officials, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State as well as to the news media. A period of 30 days is given for these officials and the public to weigh in, at which point the final decision is rendered. Despite news reports NO objections were raised during the 30 day response period for this case. In fact, only letters of support for Clemmons commutation were received, including one from the Circuit Judge.
Between 1000 and 1200 requests for some form of clemency came to my desk each and every one of the 10 ½ years I was Governor. An overwhelming majority of the time, I denied the requests. When I did grant them, it was based on the recommendations of all five of the members of the PPTB, with consideration given to input from public officials and my own personal review of each and every file.
Maurice Clemmons was 16 years old when he committed the crimes of burglary and robbery. He was sentenced to a total of 108 years in prison, dramatically outside the norm for sentencing for the crimes he committed and the age he committed them.
The PPTB unanimously recommended in 2000 for his sentence to be commuted, after he had already served 11 years of his sentence. As per the recommendation, I commuted his sentence to the term of 47 years (still a long sentence in comparison to others for the type of crime he had committed) making him parole eligible. It would not parole him, as governors do not have that power in Arkansas . He would have to separately apply for parole and meet the criteria for it.
Three months after the commutation, Clemmons met the criteria for parole and was paroled to supervision in late 2000. When he violated terms of his parole, he was returned to prison and should have remained behind bars. For reasons only the prosecutor can explain, he ended up dropping the charges, allowing him to leave prison and return to supervised parole.
Clemmons moved to his native Washington State and had intermittent criminal activity that increased in violence and frequency. He was arrested on charges of raping a child yet was allowed to post bail in Washington State . While on bail he committed the unspeakable acts of murdering four valiant police officers.
I can’t explain why he wasn’t prosecuted properly for the parole violations or why he was allowed to make bail in Washington State and not incarcerated earlier for crimes committed there. I take responsibility for my actions, but not for the actions of others, nor the misinformed words of commentators.
The two professions I value most in our society are soldiers and police officers, with fireman and schoolteachers right behind. The death of the four officers in Lakewood should never have happened. I wish Maurice Clemmons’ file had never crossed my desk, but it did. The decision I made is one that I now wish could have been made with a view into the future and the decision would have been different. None of this is of any comfort to the families of these police officers nor should it be. Their loss is senseless. No words or deeds by anyone will bring them back to their loved ones. Our system is not perfect and neither are those responsible for administering it. The system and those of us who are supposed to make sure it works sometimes get it wrong. In this case, we clearly did.