Mili Meme

To Huckabee, Some Prisoners Are More Pardonable Than Others

HuckabeeHuckabee, Maurice Clemmons, rapists, dead police officers, and the connections between them all.

by Barbara O’Brien

As governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee may have been too lenient to some criminals. But there was one criminal he couldn’t wait to execute — over the objections of Mother Teresa herself.


By now you may have heard thatthe man being sought in connection with gunning down four Lakewood, Washington, police officers is an ex-convict who was freed by then Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Maurice Clemmons, the 37-year-old Tacoma man being sought for questioning in the killing this morning of four Lakewood police officers, has a long criminal record punctuated by violence, erratic behavior and concerns about his mental health.

Nine years ago, then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee granted clemency to Clemmons, commuting his lengthy prison sentence over the protests of prosecutors.

Several people have noted that Clemmons didn’t have a record of homicides; his convictions were for burglaries and aggravated assaults. An argument can be made thatClemmons’ sentences were excessive and Huckabee’s granting of clemency was reasonable.

But Huckabee’s record regarding prisoners is, um, uneven. While the governor went out of his way to be forgiving to some prisoners, he was remarkably unforgiving to at least one other prisoner.

You may remember Wayne Dumond, a convicted serial rapist whom Huckabee arranged to be released. After his release, Dumond raped and murdered at least one other woman and possibly others.

I wrote about Dumond and another Arkansas convict, Frankie Parker, almost two years ago in “A Tale of Two Prisoners.” For reasons explained in the earlier post, Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, was pressured by the Christian Right into pardoning Dumond.

But the Christian Right kept silence on Frankie Parker, who was executed in 1996 over the objections of Mother Teresa and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In fact, Governor Huckabee was so keen to execute Frankie Parker that he intervened to move the execution date up by six weeks so that Parker could be executed sooner. He was so keen to execute Parker that moving up the execution date was Huckabee’s first official proclamation as Governor of Arkansas. Clearly,killing Frankie Parkerwas an itch that Huckabee was rarin’ to scratch.

It is true that Parker was convicted of committing two murders while under the influence of drugs. He admitted he had done this. He wasn’t asking for a pardon; just life.

What made Frankie Parker’s life so untenable? In prison, he had acquired a copy of the Dhammapada, which inspired him to convert to Buddhism. He corresponded with a Zen priest and also worked with a Little Rock Buddhist group to learn the practice. He became a spiritual leader within the prison. A Buddhist spiritual leader. Can’t have that.

So if people are wondering why Mike Huckabee took it upon himself to grant clemency to Maurice Clemmons, look for a religious angle. I don’t know that there is one, but I’ll be surprised if there isn’t.