I’m really not trying to pile on the guy. I don’t think it was some huge deal that he didn’t hear about the NIE for 24 hours. I don’t even think the Dumond fiasco would have been a huge deal if he’d owned up to it and confessed a lapse in judgment. But we’ve had to live with the other big four for the past 11 months and he is, after all, the new national frontrunner, so Huck is the man of the hour.
Here are the figures for neighboring states since 1996, when Huckabee took office (and keep in mind the population of these states is nearly 20 times ours):
>> Louisiana – 213.
>> Mississippi – 24.
>> Missouri – 79.
>> Oklahoma – 178.
>> Tennessee – 32.
>> Texas – 98 (in-cludes 36 inmates released because they were convicted on drug charges with planted evidence).
Total: 624 vs. Huckabee’s 703.
Governors in neighboring states almost never grant killers clemency, while Huckabee has commuted the sentences of a dozen murderers.
Those are 2004 figures. I was skeptical so I googled around to see if I could find confirmation. Here you go, from two months ago. The Nashua Telegraph’s numbers are slightly different for Huck’s first eight years — “only” 669 clemencies, among whom were 11 convicted murderers — but they’re otherwise in sync. When pressed for an explanation, Huck offered the following:
Huckabee told The Telegraph that number is misleading because the prison population exploded during his tenure. He said his rate was on par with most of his predecessors.
“Compared to previous governors, it really wasn’t that disproportionate,” Huckabee said. “The truth can’t hurt me on this one.”…
The 669 commutations or pardons Huckabee handed out from 1996-2004 were more than Clinton and the state’s two previous governors granted in an 18-year period.
But an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette analysis over 44 years found Huckabee’s commutation rate was about the same as two Democratic Arkansas chief executives who later became U.S. senators and was less than two other governors serving in the 1960s.
Maybe it’s just an Arkansas thing? (Or maybe not.) I’d be curious to know if those two Democratic governors had many convicted murderers on their clemency rolls. And also curious as to why, oh why, a Republican governor would ever have a clemency rate as high as a Democrat. Follow the link to the Telegraph and scroll down for rationales. One is crowded prisons, which might explain early release for a drug offender but not for a murderer. The other is a belief in “redemption.”
Exit question: Are we actually going to have a Republican nominee who’s soft on crime?
Update: 2004 flashback — Prosecutor begs Huck to stop granting clemencies.
Update: Commenter Vizzini does the math. Over eight years, Huck granted clemency once every four days.