by Max Brantley
The Atlantic rounds up what no doubt will be a growing list of commentaries on Mike Huckabee's role in commuting the lengthy prison sentence of Maurice Clemmons, a suspect in four police slayings Sunday in Washington. It's mixed. Some sympathy; some criticism.
The early going is marked by confusion.
The Atlantic says a parole board had to first make Clemmons eligible before Huckabee could "pardon" him. There was no pardon. Huckabee commuted the lengthy sentence (its precise length is, for the moment, shrouded in confusion, but it was lengthy because he was sentenced for multiple felonies, including robbery. He was not a first-time burglar as one writer seemed to think). The Parole Board makes recommendations on commutations, but no governor is bound to follow them. Huckabee followed this one. Everything that came after, including Clemmons' speedy release, flows from that decision. As in so many other questionable calls by Huckabee, a full explanation of his thinking is lacking. If it was sympathy for a youthful offender, he passed over dozens, if not hundreds, of others who could have made a similar claim.
Further reporting -- and there will be further reporting -- will clarify what set the case of Maurice Clemmons apart from so many other teen offenders with long rap sheets who got not just one, but two, speedy releases from the state parole board.
The American Spectator's Quin Hilyer remarks:
The fact that it was the asinine Mike Huckabee who commuted his sentence merely confirms all the stories that I and others spent so much timne in 2007-2008 trying to alert people to -- namely, that Huckabee A) has massive ethical problems and B) that his history of commutations of criminals shows a reckless disregard for public safety and for victims' rights.