I wrote about Mike Huckabee’s record on pardons and clemencies in depth during the presidential campaign here. The key thing to keep in mind is that these were not isolated incidents, but part of a broader pattern throughout his time as governor.
Over the course of his 10 and a half years as governor, Huckabee granted a staggering 1,033 clemencies, according to the Associated Press. That was more than double the combined 507 that were granted during the 17 and a half years of his three predecessors: Bill Clinton, Frank White, and Jim Guy Tucker.
In many cases, Huckabee’s actions set loose savage criminals convicted of grisly murders over the passionate objections of prosecutors and victims’ families.
“I felt like Huckabee had more compassion for the murderers than he ever did for the victims,” Elaine Colclasure, co-leader of the Central Arkansas chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, a group that works on behalf of victims’ families, told TAS. “He was kind of like a defense attorney. He couldn’t see the pain and suffering that the victims were going through.”
Among the violent criminals Huckabee granted clemency to were Denver Witham, who was “convicted of beating a man to death with a lead pipe at a bar,” according to the AP; Robert A. Arnold Jr., who was convicted of killing his father in law; Willy Way Jr., who pled guilty to shooting a grocery store owner as his wife looked on; and James Maxwell, who murdered a reverend. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, when the reverend’s daughter met with Huckabee to plead that Maxwell be denied clemency, Huckabee “‘affectionately referred’ to her father’s killer as ‘Jim.'”