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Mike Huckabee on Crime

Republican AR Governor


FactCheck: AR violent crime rate increased under Huckabee

In a TV ad which began running in Iowa on Dec. 28, Mike Huckabee talks of God, the nation’s founders and the innate worth of each citizen. Graphics flash up giving Huckabee credit for bringing down crime while governor of Arkansas. We find this claim to be misleading.

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.

Source: FactCheck.org: AdWatch of 2008 campaign ad, “Founding” , Jan 2, 2008

Carried out death penalty more than any other AR governor

Q: Is it true that during your ten-plus years of governor of Arkansas, you oversaw 1,033 pardons and commutations of prisoners, including 12 murders?

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.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2008 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Dec 16, 2007

Nonsense of Three-Strikes makes system overrun with people

Q: What policy would you support to guarantee young Black and Latino men a fairer equal justice system?

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

Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University , Sep 27, 2007

Death penalty is necessary part of criminal justice system

Q: Do you think the death penalty is carried out justly in the US? And do you want to see it continued?

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.

Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University , Sep 27, 2007

Opposes “hate crimes” legislation

Q: I was arrested, jailed, and was charged under Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law. I faced up to 47 years in prison plus a $90,000 fine for attempting to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ at a homosexual pride event with those who are trapped in bondage to that lifestyle. If elected, can we count on you to veto any so-called “hate crimes” legislation?
Source: [Xref Brownback] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Prosecute all illegal adult pornography

Q: The Bush Justice Department is reticent to prosecute any but the worst hardcore pornographers--and most often, only the smaller companies that produce such filth. Meanwhile, hardcore pornographers have found their way into major hotel chains. Would your administration prosecute all illegal adult pornography, including so-called white-collar pornographers?
Source: [Xref Paul] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

People naturally selfish; only God or punishment prevent it

[Liberals] argued that man is basically good; therefore, if he does bad things, he does not realize they are bad, or else he has not been trained to do good.

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.

Source: Character Makes a Difference, by Mike Huckabee, p.111-113 , Jun 1, 2007

Defends death penalty biblically as well as politically

The night of an execution is the loneliest night of a governor’s life though I had always favored the death penalty. The warden [in my first capital case as Governor called me and] said, “Governor, the prisoner is now prepared. Is there any reason we should not proceed?” What came out of my mouth in the next few moments would mean either the life or death of a man. I alone had the power to stop the proceedings.

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.

Source: Character Makes a Difference, by Mike Huckabee, p.120-121 , Jun 1, 2007

Supports death penalty, but only reluctantly

Whether we should even have a death penalty is a tough issue. I believe some crimes deserve it, but that does not mean I like it. I do believe it should be an option, but carrying out the death penalty was unquestionably the worst part of my job as governor. 17 times I sat by a phone with an open line to the death chamber, and gave the verbal order for the lethal injection. I never slept well those nights. I did the job that the law prescribed for me to do, but I hated every minute of it.
Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 86 , Jan 4, 2007

Eliminating parole gives no incentive for rehabilitation

A popular but ill-conceived notion is the complete elimination of parole or accredited time for good behavior. Eliminating parole often has the opposite effect of its intention.

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

Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 90 , Jan 4, 2007

Three Strikes based more on revenge than restoration

Americans went through a period of permissiveness in the 1970s. Some advocated that criminals really were not bad people, but just individuals who were themselves victims of either poverty or lack of education. Those who believed in such a view typically favored counseling over incarceration, but rising crime rates and a demand of the public made it clear that “coddling criminals” is a terribly failed idea.

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.

Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 87 , Jan 4, 2007

Commuted death penalty sentence due to problems at trial

The death penalty is the only decision that I make as a governor that is totally irrevocable. Once an execution is carried out, a life has ended.

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.

Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 83 , Jan 4, 2007

Build more prisons, and privatize their management

Source: 2002 AR Gubernatorial National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 2002

Supports flexible federal block grants for crime programs.

Huckabee adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

NGA’s Position

Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA10 on Sep 14, 2001

Tougher juvenile crime penalties; but let states set them.

Huckabee adopted a letter to Senate leaders from 4 Governors:

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.

Source: National Governor's Association letter to Congress 99-NGA24 on Aug 5, 1999

Other governors on Crime: Mike Huckabee on other issues:
AR Gubernatorial:
Mike Beebe
AR Senatorial:
John Boozman
Mark Pryor

Newly seated 2010:
NJ Chris Christie
VA Bob McDonnell

Term-limited as of Jan. 2011:
AL Bob Riley
CA Arnold Schwarzenegger
GA Sonny Perdue
HI Linda Lingle
ME John Baldacci
MI Jennifer Granholm
NM Bill Richardson
OK Brad Henry
OR Ted Kulongoski
PA Ed Rendell
RI Donald Carcieri
SC Mark Sanford
SD Mike Rounds
TN Phil Bredesen
WY Dave Freudenthal
Newly Elected Nov. 2010:
AL: Robert Bentley (R)
CA: Jerry Brown (D)
CO: John Hickenlooper (D)
CT: Dan Malloy (D)
FL: Rick Scott (R)
GA: Nathan Deal (R)
HI: Neil Abercrombie (D)
IA: Terry Branstad (R)
KS: Sam Brownback (R)
ME: Paul LePage (R)
MI: Rick Snyder (R)
MN: Mark Dayton (D)
ND: Jack Dalrymple (R)
NM: Susana Martinez (R)
NV: Brian Sandoval (R)
NY: Andrew Cuomo (D)
OH: John Kasich (R)
OK: Mary Fallin (R)
PA: Tom Corbett (R)
RI: Lincoln Chafee (I)
SC: Nikki Haley (R)
SD: Dennis Daugaard (R)
TN: Bill Haslam (R)
VT: Peter Shumlin (D)
WI: Scott Walker (R)
WY: Matt Mead (R)
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Page last updated: Nov 23, 2011