Sunday, November 29, 2009

Huckabee May Have Found a Running Mate

The ambush style murders of four Puget Sound area cops is understandably a shock to people across the nation.

While I have read no reports that Maurice Clemmons is anything more than a person whom the police would like to question in the killings, it does bring back into my consciousness the fact that prison terms are not just about the criminal. Prison terms for the convicted are justifiable to protect the public from violence, and forgetting that criminal incarceration is a vitally important tool for promoting the public safety is a mistake.

Maurice Clemmons is free today and mingling in the area. Why?

Clemmons' criminal history includes at least five felony convictions in Arkansas and at least eight felony charges in Washington. The record also stands out for the number of times he has been released from custody despite questions about the danger he posed.

Clemmons had been in jail in Pierce County for the past several months on a pending charge of second-degree rape of a child.

He was released from custody just six days ago, even though he was wanted on a fugitive warrant out of Arkansas and was staring at eight felony charges in all out of Washington state.
In his Arkansas history is this:
In 1990, Clemmons, then 18, was sentenced in Arkansas to 60 years in prison for burglary and theft of property, according to a news account. Newspaper stories describe a series of disturbing incidents involving Clemmons while he was being tried in Arkansas on various charges.

During one trial, Clemmons was shackled in leg irons and seated next to a uniformed officer. The presiding judge ordered the extra security because he felt Clemmons had threatened him, court records show.

Another time, Clemmons hid a hinge in his sock, and was accused of intending to use it as a weapon. Yet another time, Clemmons took a lock from a holding cell, and threw it toward the bailiff. He missed and instead hit Clemmons' mother, who had come to bring him street clothes, according to records and published reports.

On another occasion, Clemmons had reached for a guard's pistol during transport to the courtroom.

When Clemmons received the 60-year sentence, he was already serving 48 years on five felony convictions and facing up to 95 more years on charges of robbery, theft of property and possessing a handgun on school property. Records from Clemmons' sentencing described him as 5-foot-7 and 108 pounds. The crimes were committed when he was 17.

Clemmons served 11 years before being released.

News accounts say [then Governor Mike] Huckabee then commuted Clemmons' sentence, citing Clemmons' young age at the time the crimes were committed.
At this point who knows is Clemmons is the crazy thug that killed those officers, but his violent history and all-out-nuts thought processes should have been worth consideration when he was granted his freedom despite convictions and sentences that the state had already proven and justified.

Lee Atwater successfully made Willie Horton the running mate of Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential campaign. We are still several years away from 2012, but Mike Huckabee may have found his running mate too.


stonehands said...

While Huckabee does take responsiblity for 'reducing his sentance', he did not let him go.

I believe a little more research is in order before the 'running mate' tag be jabbed.

The Rougman said...

Only time will tell Stonehands, but my personal opinion is that this is the death knell for any Presidential hopes Huckabee may have had.

Huckabee may have been just one link in a failed chain, but without his actions Clemmons would still be in jail down in Arkansas.

I doubt it will keep him from running, but I do think it will keep him from being a serious candidate.

Again, only time will tell.

stonehands said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stonehands said...

(Note: spelling corrected.)

Don't be so sure he would've still been in jail.

Again, the Arkansas issue was 9 years ago. What MH did was 'reduce his sentance'. The parole board had authority for his release, not MH.

Read this:,2933,578427,00.html

Don't get me wrong; I'm not defending MH as much as I'm trying to help get the info correct.

I do think that the 'running mate' line is a pretty big millstone to hang around MH's neck, though.

As you said, only time will tell.

The Rougman said...

I understand the point that Huckabee makes here, but I'm not of a mind that it absolves him from any connection to Clemmons' release. The buck has to stop somewhere, and as the highest elected official in the state, (and as one who personally reviewed the case,) Huckabee's office is perhaps the best place for that buck to have stopped.

Now, perhaps I've not made myself clear...I do not hold Huckabee responsible for the killing. He does not have blood on his hands. I'm sure this situation is bothering him as much as it is anyone outside of the family and friends of those killed. The blame for these shootings rests clearly on the shoulders of Clemmons and, if subordinate blame has to be applied, it absolutely belongs more with the officials in Washington state than it does with Huckabee or anyone else in Arkansas. (At least Huckabee was offering compassion to someone that was a minor at the time of his transgressions.)

But then again, none of those folks (to my knowledge) will be considering a run at the Presidency. I believe this incident will have grave political consequences for Gov. Huckabee come 2012.

Time will tell.

stonehands said...

I don't think Huckabee spoke in a manner that "absolves him(self) from any connection to Clemmons' release". To the contrary; he accepted responsibility for his role in the 'system' that, in this case anyhow, failed.

However, in my opinion, his role was not the lynchpin. Granted, as a Governor, his responsiblity should be weighted more so than some with less authority. But the sequences of events and the occurance of each over time should also be considered in the matter as a whole.

Time will tell if society will judge MH's role as significant enough to warrant a disqualification for the office of President (should he decide to throw his hat in the ring again). This, I guess, will determine just how big and heavy that "millstone" may become.