STAFF EDITORIAL: Politician not totally at fault for alleged killer’s release
On Sunday morning, four Washington state police officers were allegedly ambushed and killed by Maurice Clemmons, who was subsequently killed in an apparent altercation with officers Tuesday. In the days following Sunday’s attack, much has been learned about Clemmons’ repeated brushes with the law.
Clemmons, by all accounts, was a troubled man who was given many second chances. Some are quick to point the finger at then-Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who commuted Clemmons’ prison sentence for burglary and theft nine years ago.
Before his 19th birthday, Clemmons had been sentenced to a total of 108 years behind bars, yet he was released from prison in 2000 after serving only 11 years. News reports suggest that Huckabee commuted Clemmons’ sentence due to his young age at the time the crimes were committed, even though prosecutors vehemently protested.
Clemmons, who was placed on parole upon his release, found himself back in prison later that year for committing aggravated robbery and theft. Yet again, Clemmons received early parole in 2004.
In May, Clemmons was again in trouble with the law and spent several months in a Washington state jail waiting to stand trial for allegedly raping a child. He was released last week after posting a $15,000 bond despite facing seven additional felony charges.
Although many people want to make Huckabee culpable for this tragedy, they need to recognize that this country’s legal systems have been in shambles for quite some time; incidents such as these are bound to happen.
While it is impossible to predict future behavior with complete certainty, it is even harder to ignore the warning signs that were present in Clemmons’ case.
Huckabee seems to be a target because of his position in the national spotlight, but the Washington state authorities are just as responsible for giving Clemmons the opportunities to commit his crimes.
People need to ask themselves where the outrage would be directed if Huckabee had no role in this, and it would probably be toward the Pacific Northwest.