It’s hardly surprising that several other GOP contenders for 2012 are piling on Mike Huckabee’s clemency decision of the Washington State shooter, Maurice Clemmons. But it is unfortunate that it will set back our criminal justice conversation, yet again. Rather than having a discussion about the use (and perhaps misuse) of clemency and pardons, we will instead get silly rhetoric about locking them all up and throwing away the key.
I do not claim to know whether Governor Huckabee made the right decision, based on the facts presented to him, in 2000. On its face, the initial 108 year sentence for robbery and burglary seems excessive, especially for a 16 year old. The powers of clemency and pardon come attached with an enormous responsibility. However, if this instance causes other governors to become reticent to exercise those powers, justice will not be served.