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Mark Atwood
Thoughts on Maurice Clemmons, Mike Huckabee, Willie Horton and Mike Dukakis
While I am no fan at all of Mike Huckabee or his ilk, I can't help but notice that many of the people calling for his head and/or chuckling at the damage that this has done to his political prospects are the same peoples who thought that the Willie Horton - Mike Dukakis affair was unfair.

They are also increasing the political pressure towards even more stupidly harsh sentencing and more executions, despite those things being against their own principles and ideals, for the sake of their own blind partisanship.

If a former governor is politically punished years after the fact for following the advice of the pardons and parol board, and the opinion of the sentencing judge, in deciding to issue pardons, especially to a minor who committed a non-violent crime, then soon enough, no governor will be willing to take the risk to issue pardons, except to wealthy well-connected powerful friends.

But the baying voices don't give a shit about such damage to our polity or our society, just so long as they get to pull out their partisan long knives, and take down a politician they don't like.

Feh on you all.
7 comments or Leave a comment
loganb From: loganb Date: December 1st, 2009 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
In general, IAWTC. I was too young to remember the Dukakis stuff, but we all know that statistically speaking some folks who get out of prison will commit crimes again. It's just a fact of life.

Though, I think the reasonable question is whether Huckabee offered clemency for objective reasons (like there was a good chance of reform), or did he do it for irrational reasons (guy turned to Jesus). It's also worth asking whether the corrections services under his management were competent.
hearts_treasure From: hearts_treasure Date: December 2nd, 2009 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I fail to see how turning to Jesus doesn't increase the chance for reformation. Do you mean actions speak louder than words?
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: December 2nd, 2009 12:54 am (UTC) (Link)
hearts_treasure, many people, including many people who read my LJ, their ravening antipathy to religion is their religion, even when they don't realize it.

In fact, they are more unreasonable about it than most religious people, because they don't realize that it is a religion that is influencing their beliefs.
loganb From: loganb Date: December 2nd, 2009 01:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Turning to Jesus may or may not indicate a low likelihood of a prisoner recommitting a crime. I don't actually know. But we have data on a large number of former felons and their recommitment rates and we can use that to estimate the chances of Clemmons committing another heinous crime.

Governor Huckabee had an obligation to both the safety of his constituents. Thus, when the parole board recommended Clemmon's release, he was obligated to ensure the recommendation was well supported by data that suggested Clemmons was not a safety risk. If Huckabee released him for other reasons, such as a mere sharing of a common faith, then Huckabee acted irresponsibly.

I think there are enough red flags in this case that it's worth exploring, namely Clemmons' apparent bad behavior at his trial and while incarcerated, and that his appeal to Huckabee appears to be on religious grounds. I think that's enough to be asking questions, though certainly not enough level criticism over the decision. Though, it certainly is NOT reasonable to absolve Huckabee of responsibility simply because his subordinates on the parole board recommend Clemmons' release. As their boss (or 2-boss, 3-boss, whatever), he either needs to be willing to take responsibility for their decisions or else spend the time to check their work. If he trusted them and they acted irresponsibly, it is as much his failing as theirs.
docorion From: docorion Date: December 2nd, 2009 02:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Hm. I thought both incidents were overblown; predicting human behaviour is not possible, and I don't envy parole boards their jobs. But to expect one partisan faction to not gloat at least a little over the biter bit is also to expect something not common in human nature. Did you expect better? I did not; when I heard about the incident, I knew there would be some from my side of the aisle who would see an opportunity to say "we told you so".

(I wold also note that the noise has been, from my vantage point at least, much less noisy than the Horton incident was. OTOH, there's not a Presidential campaign active currently).

I don't like Huckabee much, but Maurice Clemmons has nothing to do with that. I didn't like him before, and I like him as little now as I did before. (Note: don't like here is entirely in the political context. I suspect he's a perfectly nice guy to have a conversation or dinner out with).
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: December 3rd, 2009 03:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Did I expect better?

Yes, and no.

Yes, because I am currently looking in digust at the "side" who main principle claim seems to be to be "we are better and kinder and higher minded people than the people on the other side"

No, because I know both sides are buried past their eyebrows in the sewage of rank hypocracy.
mauser From: mauser Date: December 2nd, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
The odd thing was that this man also had more than enough Felonies in Washington to get hit by the Three Strikes law, but didn't get put away. clearly there were many more failures than Huckabee's. Most disasters come from a chain of failures, and Huckabee was neither the first nor the last in that chain.

That said, I had a feeling that he would not be taken alive.

(People also tend to forget that it was Dukakis' Democrat opponent, Al Gore, who first brought up Horton, and that the Republican Ad about Dukakis' leniency used a revolving door, not the picture of Horton.)
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