November 30th, 2009
02:16 PM ET
4 years ago

Huckabee: Justice system 'failed miserably' with Clemmons

Mike Huckabee commuted Clemmons' sentence when he was governor of Arkansas in 2000.
Mike Huckabee commuted Clemmons' sentence when he was governor of Arkansas in 2000.

(CNN) – Mike Huckabee took to the radio airwaves Monday to explain why, as governor of Arkansas in 2000, he commuted the nearly 100-year prison sentence of Maurice Clemmons, the man suspected of murdering four police officers in Washington state.

Clemmons was sentenced to 95 years in prison in 1989 for a host of charges, including robberies, burglaries, thefts and bringing a gun to school. Huckabee cited Clemmons' young age - 17 at the time of his sentencing - when he announced his decision to commute the sentence, according to newspaper articles. Clemmons was paroled in August 2000, after 11 years in prison.

On the Monday morning episode of "The Huckabee Report" - the Republican's daily radio commentary - he pointed to "a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington state" as the reason Clemmons was allowed to re-enter society. Repeating what he said in a statement released Sunday night, Huckabee noted that the Arkansas parole board granted Clemmons' parole after he received the commutation.

"He was arrested later for parole violation, taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him," Huckabee told listeners. "It appears that he has continued to have a string of criminal and psychotic behavior, but was not kept incarcerated by either state."

Huckabee, who is considering a making second presidential run in 2012, also spoke to Fox News radio about his decision.

"If I could have known nine years ago, looked into the future, would I have acted favorably upon the parole board's recommendation? Of course not," he said. "One of the things that is horrible and just, again, one of the realities you have to confront is the criminal justice system is far from perfect, and in this case it failed miserably on all sides."


Filed under: Mike Huckabee
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Craig

    Mr. Huckabee - quit blaming all the levels of justice - you were in charge and you could have looked at this man's record and seen for yourself that he was a danger to society - instead of blaming everyone else, stand up like a man and take responsibility - see where rubber-stamping gets you? Some of the blood from this tragedy is on your hands!

    November 30, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  2. Keeth in California

    "and in this case it failed miserably on all sides."

    Including your side, Mr. Huckabee.

    Why can't Republicans live up to their claim that the GOP is the "Party of Personal Responsibility" and that the buck stops at the top? Huckabee was the most-senior member responsible in AR in this debacle. He should step up to the plate, be a big man about it, and assume responsibility for the failures of the system in his state while he was governor.

    His sidestepping and blaming others is an absolute joke, but somehow those poor police officers, their families, and their friends in WA aren't laughing.

    November 30, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  3. Jacque Bauer

    No Huckabee hand waving of his "compassion" for this heinous hate-crime killer can ease the pain of the familes of the victims. Huckabee has always had a reputation for "turning the other cheek" to cold blooded killers in Arkansas, only to see them come back for more hyper crime. He can do it in his personal life, but not on behalf of the people he supposedly represents.

    True conservatives will never allow him to be president.

    November 30, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. harvey

    it's over, Mike. Just like Mike Dukakis in 1988, your Republican demagogues will now view you as soft on crime. stick with radio, just like Rush.

    November 30, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. Virginia Independent Voter

    Looks like Huckabee has a "Willie Horton" problem. That won't help his 2012 presidential bid if he decides to run.

    November 30, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. Jim Strain

    I disagree with Mike Huckabee about almost everything, but he's right about this one. Every time someone is paroled or released, there is a possibility that some day they may reoffend - even commit a heinous crime. But the same could be said about any of us. Trying to blame the governor or the parole board whenever a parolee commits a high-profile crime is the quintessential cheap shot.

    November 30, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. not alone

    Hey mike the spinning is NOT working, You failed to do your job 8 years ago by not taking an hour or so to look this guy up before you let him lose on America,man up dude.Didn't not bother you that this MAN recieved in essence a life sentance by a jury of his piers? And to think the republicans ran heavy crimial justice campain by attacting Dukecacus relentlessly about Willy Horton,typical repulican like demicrat you all speak with forked tounge.Stop playing the Palin blame everyone else card and own up to what you did.BTW sending some flowers and opogize to those famillys' are in order on your side of this deal.You droped the ball big time.

    November 30, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. Independent

    I am no Huckabee fan, with that said I hope this doesn't become a us against them...Demo aganist Repubs....When will we come together for the betterment of our country

    November 30, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. CNN afraid of a liberal post

    Wait a minute. He was responsible for releasing the guy, so who is he trying to blame. Guess he wants to put a democrat in there some place and blame him.....you know like bush the first. The one who used the fact that the state released a former murder( and not Dukasus) as a tool to flame and slur his opponent. But then that was Lee Atwell, the archetict of every dirty common low down trick the republicans have pulled.

    November 30, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. T'SAH from Virginia

    Yes – Just like HUCK-A-BYE will FAIL as president in 2012!!

    Actually, you cannot BLAME HUCK-A-BYE for this man's actions – BUT, you can blame those who continued to LET HIM GO when he committed subsequent crimes!!!

    November 30, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. susan nunn

    oh my...this is ridiculous! The criminal justice system put the man in jail...huckabee released him... enough said.

    November 30, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. Right Leaning Independent

    Ok, Huckabee could not see what the future holds but you can certainly look at what the past held for this person. Stop thinking that everyone deserves second, third and fourth chances. If they do a series of crimes that warrant a 95 year sentence let them do their time!! Huckabee thought he knew better than the court system and made a life changing decision and 4 families grieve today due to that decision.

    November 30, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. GOP hypocrites

    Sounds like he's "passing the buck". Sorry, Huck, the buck stops with you.

    November 30, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    The failure began with you, chump, by commuting a prison sentence from 108 years!

    Did you get a tweet from Jesus telling you to "let my people go"?

    November 30, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. George Bush - Worst President Ever

    Just another example of our great court system at work. Maybe Huckabee made a mistake. It happens. But it appears that the court system had numerous opportunities to rectify the situation, and didn't. Maybe some of these district attornies and judges who let this guy skate should have to answer for their actions.

    November 30, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. Bob of Lompoc

    Let's see: The front running (among Republicans polled) Republican Presidential Nominee for 2012 commuted the 100 (Repeat: 100 – must have been some downright serious crimes) year prison sentence for a guy who then went out into the World and became the main suspect in the murder of four uniformed policeman. Oh, oh! Watch Gomer Pyle fall off the cliff ! My condolences to the familes of those four officers. How would I feel toward the person who commuted the 100 year prison sentence, if one of those officers was related to me, or a friend of mine ? Don't ask. You wouldn't print it.

    November 30, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. Dan

    Why is he passing the buck. You failed, Mike. You commuted his 95 year sentence and let him out. Now he has killed four of our local police officers in our greater Seattle community.

    This will cost you any shot of the 2012 nomination.

    November 30, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Independent

    This is why you should not throw rocks because it is likely a stone will come back at you......Remeber the golden rule Mr. Huckabee..God has a way of teaching us all

    November 30, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Oh well. So much for 2012. Better hope FOX renews that contract.

    November 30, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. Tom

    Another Mike falls victim, politically, to another Willie Horton.

    November 30, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Huckabee doesn't seem to understand that we humans make mistakes. It is bound to happen. Even he let someone out that was eligible for parole that reoffended (I think that it was a volient attack like rape). There is no system that is completely effective or mistake free.

    November 30, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  22. Jim

    I don't blame this on Mr. Huckabee. I'm kind of tired of politicians pointing the finger about law and order when there is no perfect solution. When it comes to justice, you do your best and quite often its the wrong thing. People just aren't predictable.

    November 30, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. Enough

    This is why convicted criminals should serve their entire sentence. The death penalty needs to be used more and enforced sooner. Enough treating the criminals better than the public.

    November 30, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Yes, the criminal justice system is at fault here, Mike. The Parole board, the correctional facilities, everybody but you, right? Keep covering your butt. You are political toast until you say "I made a mistake that cost the lives of four officers and I am profoundly sorry."

    November 30, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. C from middle GA

    "...why, as governor of Arkansas in 2000, he commuted the nearly 100-year prison sentence of Maurice Clemmons..."

    And there were some who wanted to put him in charge of the country... what would he have done if Osama "found Jesus"?

    November 30, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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