Mike Huckabee on Crime
Former Republican AR Governor; possible draft candidate
Huckabee’s ad says he was “tough on crime” and “brought Arkansas’ crime rates down.” But that’s not quite right. While the overall crime rate did decline by 3.9%, that was due entirely to a 5.0% reduction in property crimes, such as burglaries and auto theft. When it comes to violent crimes, a category that includes murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, Huckabee’s record is mixed: Murders and robberies declined, while rapes and aggravated assaults increased. Overall, the violent crime rate was actually 5.2% higher than in 1996, when he took office.
A: I actually carried out the death penalty 16 times more than any governor in my state’s history, and the crime rate in my state went down. If you look at the background of some of these, it meant that people who are 40 years old who had done a joyride or written a hot check when they were 18 had never been to prison. This wasn’t like I stood there with a key at the prison door and let people out. Background checks kept them from even so much as getting a job emptying the bedpans in a nursing home. And often the pardons were in order to let them get in the work force.
A: We really don’t have so much a crime problem in this country. We have a drug and alcohol problem. We’ve got to quit locking up all the people that we’re mad at and lock up the people that we’re really afraid of, the people who are sexual predators and violent offenders. But the nonsense of three strikes and you’re out has created a system that is overrun with people, and the cost is choking us
A: I probably dislike the death penalty more than anybody on this stage, but for a very different reason. I’ve actually had to carry it out, more than any governor in my state’s history. I had to carry out the death penalty because that was my job. I did it because I believed, after reading every page of every transcript and everything in that file, it was the only conclusion we could come to. But I didn’t enjoy it. And God help the American who somehow has this cavalier attitude about the death penalty and says they support it and they can do it. Let me tell you something from the person whose name had to be put on the document that started the process: It’s a necessary part of our criminal justice system for those crimes for which there is no other alternative. But God help the person who ever does it without a conscience and feels the pain of it.
Our problems do not result from economics or deficiencies in education. They result from the selfish decision to ignore God’s standards of integrity. Standards based on anything else are relative, and relative standards are meaningless.
A person with a biblical world view says humans are by nature selfish. We are basically self-centered & look out for ourselves first. Only two things will change this: either our nature will be changed by a supernatural experience with God through Christ, or we will fear the consequences of not doing the right thing.
Those who believe God created humans have a different worldview from those who believe humans created God. Politics are totally directed by worldview. That is why when people say, “We ought to separate politics from religion,” I say to separate the two is absolutely impossible.
I authorized other executions after that one, but it never became easier. If it had, there would have been something wrong with me or the process. To this day I am confident that I did the right thing--“right” defined against moral absolutes in the midst of an imperfect world.
In an ideal world, this man would have never committed the horrible murders for which he was tried and found guilty and sentenced to die. The process was tedious and thorough. Nevertheless, the moment a governor gives the order to proceed, he is answering to God for his action and not to the taxpayer.
People are in prison largely because they failed to understand how life should work, with people being rewarded for responsible action, & suffering the consequences of irresponsible action. It is fair to say that people in prison got there due to their unwillingness to abide by simple rules of common courtesy. The concept of parole is that an inmate can complete educational goals, be industrious, follow the rules, and get along with other inmates in order to earn his or her most precious commodity--time.
Imagine saying to an inmate, “If you learn a useful skill and act respectfully toward others, you will still serve a full sentence.” What kind of incentive is that? Yes, I believe in “commit the crime and do the time,” but it is in society’s best interest to have a system that keeps hope alive in the minds of violators
In the 1990s, the pendulum swung harshly back in the opposite direction and very popular policies such as “three strikes and you’re out” and “no parole provisions” were adopted.
Being tough on crime is certainly more popular than being soft, but America needs to be careful that in our attempt to stoutly enforce our laws and protect our citizens, we do not end up with a system that is based more on revenge than restoration. A revenge-based criminal justice system seeks to measure out as harsh a judgement as is possible so as to satisfy the natural inclination to get even.
I kept a box of files near by desk to review them in the days prior to the execution. One unsettling part of the evidence [in the Fretwell case] were interviews conducted with Fretwell & his brother. The description of their family life revealed a childhood of abuse, humiliation & degradation. I was moved to tears, but that did not alter the crime.
However, a juror said he had been told that if Fretwell was found guilty, he would get life in prison without parole and that was the reason he voted for a guilty verdict. The problem I then faced was that I was unwilling to be a man who had ignored late evidence in a death penalty case to avoid the complications that come with clemency. If the justice system would not work for the “least of these among us,” then neither would it work for me or anyone else. I commuted the sentence to life in prison.
Our homicide rate is more than 5 times that of Europe, and 4 times that of Canada or Australia.
Amazingly, minors account for about 17% of all reported arrests for violent crimes in this country every year. In fact, the fastest growing segment of the criminal population is our nation's children.
Violent crime--defined as murder, rape or other type of sexual battery, suicide, physical attack or fight with a weapon, or robbery--have become especially evident in our nation's schools.
There might be a temptation to come to a quick solution to the current wave of violence in our culture and simply say, "Let's just treat children as adults." But if we did so, such action would be violating the code of making distinctions between children and adults. A child who commits an adult crime cannot be treated in a childish fashion, but neither can he be treated in the same fashion as an adult criminal.
But there is a difference between abstract, hypothetical discussion and affixing your signature to set in motion the process by which a man will have his life terminated. The moment came when the warden got on the phone and said, "Governor, the prisoner is now prepared. The IV is inserted. Is there any reason we should not proceed?"
I cannot describe what that is like. I could not have prepared myself for it. I have authorized 4 other executions since that one. It hasn't become any easier. I hope and pray it never does. If it does, there is something terribly wrong with me or the process.
The bills [Congress is working on] support many effective juvenile justice strategies, including incarceration for anyone who knowingly provides a firearm to a minor for illegal use, and additional penalties for those who illegally sell or transfer firearms or engage in drug trafficking at or near a school site, park, or other area where children and youth congregate. While many of your goals are laudable and Governors support them, we do not approve of the various mandates, restrictions, and fund set-asides in H.R. 1501 and 254. States are in the best position to determine penalties for juvenile crime. States need more, not less flexibility to deal with delinquent behavior. Flexibility is essential to allow states to continue to find out what works, developing “best practices” on proven programs, and learning from each other. Federal mandates and one-size-fits-all prescriptions short-circuit experimentation and innovation.
The nation’s Governors are deeply concerned about attempts to expand federal criminal law into traditional state criminal justice system functions. This will contribute little to reducing crime. Moreover, it undermines state and local anti-crime efforts. Governors also believe that federal concurrent jurisdiction in criminal justice efforts will be used by the federal government to impose additional burdensome mandates on state and local crime control and law enforcement officials, especially with regard to federal authority over juvenile offenders. One example is the mandate that states establish and maintain federally-prescribed “Juvenile Criminal History Record” data banks. The pending bills are not clear on what information must be provided to and will remain in the national data bases, who will have access to the data, how long the data will be maintained and made available, and how the data will be used. We also affirm states’ rights under our federal system to control access to their own data.
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