by Max Brantley
Interesting post today on The Arkansas Project by Cory Cox, a lawyer who once served as legal counsel to Gov. Mike Huckabee. It's a commentary on the disciplinary trouble in which Circuit Judge Willard Proctor finds himself. But it might also shed a little light on justice system interests of the governor's office during the Huckabee era.
During my tenure at the governor’s office, we promoted a concept known as “restorative justice” [his link] that imposed unique sanctions on those convicted in criminal courts. There was also a faith-based component to some of the restorative justice programs we considered. That component could not be constitutionally imposed upon an offender, but had to be something in which they chose to participate on their own.
We were very careful in implementing the programs, being certain not to force them on anyone. For one, it was impossible for the governor to impose these programs on the courts and prosecutors. But he could have brought pressure to bear on the Arkansas Department of Correction to implement programs. But even with the Department of Corrections, Huckabee was reserved, believing that these programs would only work if the people involved believed that they worked.
It does no good to force values and beliefs on someone. If you force-feed faith, the proselyte rebels against your desires, lying about their belief to placate you. You cannot force a person to believe. You can’t make believers, you only make enemies and harm the reputation of the church.
If what the JDDC staff report is true, then Judge Proctor ended up being his worst enemy. Not only did he get himself in trouble and possibly lose his office, he may have harmed the future of creative faith-based justice programs in the courts, and he may have made his probationers hostile to the cause of Christ. I certainly pray that is not the case.
I hope Cory will be willing to talk or write more about the restorative justice "imposed" by the governor's office. The office has a role, of course, in pardons, paroles and commutations. This article also suggests influence on the Correction Department.
My question: Could this perhaps be a hint at some side deals in these clemency practices, which were controversial on several occasions during the Huckabee era? I don't think this process, as described in the link, would cover the Wayne Dumond case. His advocates always argued for his Christian faith. But there wasn't much sign of the tenets of "restorative justice" in that case. Dumond made no apology and insisted on his innocence. The victim of his rape didn't get the courtesy of a call from the governor before he made his decision to advocate his release.