This newspaper took a swipe at Huckabee for considering clemency over objections from the Pulaski prosecutor. The comment prompted a note from Jobes' wife, Jan, who talked to me patiently and persuasively this week.
Jobes was a West Virginia truck driver who got strung out on the crystal meth he popped to stay awake and the alcohol he drank to come down. When his career and first marriage fell apart, he followed his parents to Arkansas. He brought his drug habit.
He avoided an immediate trip to prison on a 1991 robbery charge when the State Hospital found he wasn't mentally competent to stand trial. In 1993, however, he robbed a string of convenience stores and service stations at gunpoint to feed his drug habit. Pulaski deputies chased him down after a truck stop robbery. He struck a 60-year plea bargain to avoid a life sentence.
William Jobes straightened up over the next 10 years. He had a clean prison record. He became editor of "The Long Line Writer," the prison newspaper. In 1996, he landed a new clerk's job, with a prison mental health counselor. "It was love at first sight," remembers the counselor, who would eventually become Jan Jobes. She never spoke such feelings aloud at work, nor did he. But their growing friendship contributed to her decision to take a job at a private hospital in 1997. Their relationship grew in letters and phone calls. They married in October 1997 at the Tucker Max visitor center. Bill arrived in handcuffs and leg irons.
Their commitment never faltered. Jan made some 350 visits. She spent an estimated $30,000 on telephone calls. And she learned the intricate business of seeking clemency. The first application was denied in 1999, even though Jan had been able to wangle a personal visit with Gov. Mike Huckabee. "He was nice, but noncommittal," she remembers.
Jan and Bill went back to work. She tried to find every victim of every robbery to make restitution. Many couldn't find records. In those cases, she'd make a donation to charity.
With a 50-page application, Bill and Jan Jobes tried again in 2003. First a hearing office and then the parole board recommended clemency. About two months later, the recommendation reached the governor's desk. That was the day, Feb . 9, that Bill Jobes lapsed into a coma and died.
Two days later, as Jan was about to leave for the cemetery, the governor's office called. Posthumous clemency was being considered. "I was so angry," she remembers. "Why then, when it was too late? "
She's more philosophical now. She's pondered why the governor acted. "Mercy is the only word that applies," she said.
Jan Jobes, a former newspaper reporter, wants to write a book. "It will be about love and devotion and a system that is sometimes hard to understand."
Sen. Linda Collins-Smith (R-Pocahontas) made a run at imposing a stronger ethics requirement on the legislature, but she fell short. Her bill got a 20-6 favorable vote in the Senate, but as amendment to an initated act, an ethics reform measusre of 1988, she need 24 votes.
I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
Hog fans just can't quit blaming the refs for the NCAA men's basketball tournament loss to North Carolina. Now the Arkansas Senate has gotten in on the act, with this resolution introduced by Democratic Sen. Keith Ingram and getting bipartisan co-sponsorship from that brutish and short sandlot roundball player, Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson.
IndieWire breaks news long whispered downtown — a more ambitious successor to the Little Rock Film Festival is in the works, with backing from writer/director Jeff Nichols, a Little Rock native. His "Loving" has won wide acclaim recently.
Congratulations are in order for Governor Hutchinson. He decided this year to devote the weight of his office to end the state's embarrassing dual holiday for slavery defender Robert E. Lee and civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.
An article in Sunday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reminded me of John Belushi in "Animal House" exhorting frat brothers to rally against a dean's effort to put them out of business. "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"
The Arkansas Supreme Court last week delivered a blow to civil rights in Arkansas. It was another results-oriented decision that gives a clue to how far the justices likely will go to appease the legislature.