In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 1, 2006 / 7 Menachem-Av, 5766

The not-so fine art of forgiveness

By Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has been in the news of late, because (a), the former Baptist minister is eying a run at the White House in the 2008 GOP primary and (b) he recently signed an order to pardon Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards for a 1975 reckless driving rap for which Richards pleaded guilty and paid a $162.50 fine.

The only reason he is doing it is "for the publicity," charged the mayor of the town where Richards and his entourage were stopped. Shameless self-promotion? Huckabee has a great response. If you played guitar as well as Keith Richards, he would pardon you, too, Huckabee told The Chronicle when he was in town Friday. The governor is clearly enjoying the notoriety — especially because stories report the fact that he plays bass for his own rock band. If I recall, another Arkansas guv used an instrument — a saxophone — to serenade the public on the road to the White House.

What Huckabee says about pardons certainly is music to my ears. Yes, he says, he will continue to issue pardons and commutations, "knowing full well that there's no political upside, zero."

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette investigated Huckabee's record in July 2004 and found that Huckabee had commuted 111 sentences for prisoners in his first eight years in office. That number far exceeds the total commutations from the three governors (including Clinton) who preceded Huckabee over 18 years. The paper also reported that former Govs. Winthrop Rockefeller and Orval Faubus issued more commutations than Huckabee — and for smaller prison populations.

Zero upside? Note that President Bush has issued some 82 pardons. That's a measly sum considering that federal prisons house more than 10 times the number of inmates in Arkansas, that draconian federal sentencing practices can land nonviolent first-time low-level drug offenders behind bars for decades, and the paucity of sentences cut short by Dubya.

Both Huckabee and Bush have pardoned men and women who served their time and wanted a clean slate for their new lives. Think of a teenage check-kiter who served her time, repented and now wants to work as a nursing assistant. Huckabee asked, "Are we going to put a heel to her face for the rest of her life?" No, you grant her a pardon.

Huckabee beats Bush on commutations even though he knows, when you cut sentences to give people "a second chance," some will re-offend.

I liked that Huckabee rejects how people in politics these days "want to make the whole process robotic." They embrace policies that say, "no pardons to anyone," thus stripping the art and human element from governing.

I left that meeting planning to write a gushing French kiss of a column, but when I researched the issue, I found that the less you know about his record, the better Huckabee sounds.

Let me be clear. Huckabee is a brave and good politician when he commutes sentences for nonviolent offenders and pardons for ex-cons who have turned their lives around. It is even possible he was a paragon when he shortened the prison terms of some violent offenders.

Too bad Huckabee has commuted sentences for violent offenders — without appearing to have done his homework. In 2004, Huckabee commuted the sentence of convicted murderer Denver Witham — after Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Herzfeld revealed that Witham had omitted some of his convictions on his clemency application. (Also, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported, the former Saline County sheriff testified that he had been threatened on Witham's behalf.) No governor should pardon a murderer so unrepentant that he lies on his clemency application.

Herzfeld cited other questionable commutations — the three-time drunk driver who served nine months of a six-year sentence, won a Huckabee commutation, then parole and then his fourth drunk-driving conviction. Huckabee advocated the release of a convicted rapist who was then paroled and later found guilty of murdering a Missouri woman.

As Herzfeld noted, no governor should grant clemency for a violent crime over the objections of the victim or victim's family, or for an inmate who has not proved he has rehabilitated himself.

I wish Bush knew what Huckabee knows: There is a place for redemption in the criminal justice system. Governors and presidents have a duty to find that ground and shorten sentences that far outstrip the crime or an inmate's guilt.

A good leader wants to correct the system's excesses, while recognizing a duty to protect the public. My wish for 2008 is a candidate who shares Huckabee's ideals, but not his rose-colored glasses.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.

Debra J. Saunders Archives

© 2006, Creators Syndicate