Speaking of pardons: The Utah prisoner that Beebe did NOT consider | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Speaking of pardons: The Utah prisoner that Beebe did NOT consider

Posted By on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Gov. Mike Beebe is making news in his final days of the sort likely to knock a few points off his high Arkansas approval ratings by proposing to pardon a sex offender who was a longtime family friend and also pardon his own son, Kyle, convicted of possession of a couple of ounces of marijuana (a felony amount) in 2003.

He's also being knocked again this week in Utah for the fact that another perennial pardon request from an Arkansas convict being housed in Utah didn't reach the governor's office in time for consideration this year. This is Rolf Kaestel, imprisoned since 1981 for robbing a Fort Smith taco stand with a water pistol. He was transferred to Utah in 1999 under a state compact and has been costing Utah $28,00 a year ever since. No clear reason for his transfer has ever been offered, but Kaestel was an agitator and he participated in a documentary film about the Arkansas prisons' scandalous program of buying plasma from inmates. Tainted blood was sold.

We've mentioned the Kaestel case before.

It's been the subject of continuing reporting in Utah, most recently in the Salt Lake City Weekly. Kelly Duda, the Arkansan who made the documentary, continues to advocate for Kaestel.

 "They just want him to die," Duda says. "Find me another water-gun robbery in Arkansas or Utah that resulted with a life without parole prison term. At a certain point, it just becomes absurd."

...He says he's optimistic that Arkansas governor-elect Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, will release Kaestel when the prisoner's request for clemency glides across his desk.

"What is required is real leadership from the governor's office on this moral issue," Duda says. "Rolf Kaestel's not going away unless they let him out."

I'm not going to scoff at the notion of a more-compassionate Hutchinson yet. His record includes some advocacy for alternatives to prison for drug offenders and criticism of disparate treatment of users of different forms of cocaine.

Beebe's own record of pardons — dozens for minor offenders, but few otherwise — was a contrast (and not a good one) to Mike Huckabee. Huckabee took chances on pardons in the name of rehabilitation and forgiveness. For that he deserves credit. For poor judgment and favoring insiders, he deserves the criticism that's been heaped on him and will be heaped again when he gets in the 2016 presidential race.

Tags: , , ,


Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Saturday's open line, plus some political notes

    The Saturday open line, with some political odds and ends:
    • Dec 15, 2018
  • Obamacare's ruin: Where are the boastful press releases from Arkansas Republicans?

    Silence so far from Republican politicians such as Leslie Rutledge on achievement of their long-stated dream, death to the Affordable Care Act. Could that be because most people now understand what a good thing President Obama did with its passage? Update: Rutledge applauds and offers empty promise of coverage.
    • Dec 15, 2018
  • Entergy demolishes old power plant near Stamps

    Entergy, the state's largest electric utility, yesterday used explosives to destroy the major parts of its closed Couch Plant near Stamps, which dated to 1943 and was designed to burn fuel oil or gas at two generating units. Named for power company founder Harvey Couch, it's been out of commission since 2013.
    • Dec 15, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…


  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 
  • Margaret Clark Adventure Park
    New sculptures, preschoolers play area dedicated in Riverfront Park in Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation