Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Beebe and pardons: He puts hold on controversial case; also plans pardon for son

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 4:34 PM

click to enlarge MICHAEL JACKSON: Pardon on hold. - KTHV
  • KTHV
  • MICHAEL JACKSON: Pardon on hold.
Gov. Mike Beebe said today that he won't grant a pardon to convicted sex offender Michael E. Jackson until he's learned the truth of a new accusation he's just received about Jackson. Said a release:

Wednesday afternoon, Governor Beebe's office received a copy of an affidavit in a Faulkner County child-custody case that makes accusations against Michael E. Jackson. Last week, Governor Beebe stated his intent to grant Jackson a pardon in relation to a conviction for which Jackson had completed all terms of his sentence.

While the accusations are unrelated to that conviction, and there does not appear to be any criminal investigation into the matter, Jackson's pardon will not be granted until, and unless, the accusations are found to be untrue.

This is one of the reasons for the 30-day provision between the governor's stated intent to grant a pardon and the finalization of that pardon. New information sometimes arises and the validity of that information must then be ascertained.

Beebe, by the way, faces another ticklish pardon decision before he leaves office shortly after the end of his term. It's a request for a pardon for his son, Kyle, on a felony marijuana conviction, unanimously recommended by the state Pardons and Parole Board. UPDATE: He plans to grant it. KATV led the reporting on this story and has an interview with the governor about his intentions.

Faulkner County officials and several legislators have objected to Beebe's plan to give a pardon in December to Michael E. Jackson, convicted in 2008 of Internet stalking of a child. Beebe coached Jackson in peewee football in Searcy. He said he was confident he wasn't a risk for being in the community without designation as a sex offender, which a pardon would allow, and based that in part on his own knowledge of him. Legislators have objected to giving a pardon to someone who'd harmed a child. Strictly speaking, Jackson harmed no child. He was ensnared in an undercover police operation and thought he was talking to a 14-year-old on the Internet. The adult police officer arranged a meeting, but Jackson backed away from the meeting and didn't stop at the pre-arranged rendezvous at a Taco Bell. He was arrested and convicted for his intent. He served four months of a two-year term and has had a clean record.

The governor's office has not revealed details of the affidavit. If it's filed on-line, I'll report it when I find it.

As to the governor's son:

His son, Kyle, was recommended for a pardon Oct. 20 by the Arkansas Parole Board, whose members owe appointments to the governor. He sought a pardon for his conviction of a charge of posession of marijuana with intent to deliver. The charge was filed in 2003 after deputies found a bag with more than an ounce of marijuana in his house west of Searcy. The elder Beebe was attorney general at the time and said then, "He's still my son. I still love him. But he has to understand - if he did something wrong, you have to be accountable."

Kyle Beebe, 34, works for a pipeline company, is married and has two children, one who's remained cancer-free after a battle with a rare form of cancer. He has only a single serious criminal conviction, for which he received probation. In 1999, he was twice fined for public intoxication. His letter for pardon addresses the governor. "I am a different person now than I was then," he writes. The Parole Board recommendation was unanimous. The file contains no objection from local law enforcement.

Here's his pardon application.

UPDATE: I inquired of the governor's office about the status of this pardon request after getting a tip that inquiries had been made about the younger Beebe's file by KATV and I got a copy myself of the Parole Board recommendation. His spokesman, Matt DeCample responded:

Yes, it will arrive on his desk before he leaves office, and yes, he intends to grant the pardon.

Of the 700+ pardons he has granted during his eight years, a significant portion of them have been for young, first-time drug offenders.

KATV has done extensive reporting on the story. It includes an interview with the governor. He told Channel 7:

"Kids when they're young do stupid stuff. He was no different. Liked to have broken his mother's heart. His mother and I were stereotypical parents from the different end of the spectrum. She was the enabler that tried to fix everything. I was the nuclear bomb thrower that thought you ought to shoot him. Somewhere between those two extremes was probably the right thing to do," Beebe said.

It would be interesting to know how many first-offenders on a pot charge have  been refused clemency under the Beebe administration. No way to make a pardon for your son look pure, not when Beebe has been so famously parsimonious witth the pardon power.

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