Gov. Mike Beebe defends his pardon of son | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gov. Mike Beebe defends his pardon of son

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 11:59 AM

The headline says it all. It's why the topic has hit news headlines around the world. (Big takeout on BBC, for example.)

An executive is pardoning his own son? On the recommendation of a board that he appoints? Others in similar circumstances have not been pardoned? That's news.

The headlines continue because Gov. Mike Beebe was asked on his last AETN call-in appearance last night about his plans to pardon his son Kyle next month on an 11-year-old conviction for possession of a felony amount (about two ounces) of marijuana. From Andrew DeMillo's report for the AP, via Arkansas business, the governor's quotes:

I'm not going to treat my son worse than I treat everybody else, and I'm not treating him better.

... He was guilty, he paid the price and that was 11 years ago. And I'm not going to treat him worse than I treat other people that are similarly situated that I've granted literally hundreds and hundreds of pardons for over the past eight years.

Maybe this is good news for another 2003 marijuana convict with a clean record who's also been recommended for pardon, but whose application has been lingering longer than Kyle Beebe's. That the governor has pardoned  others similar to Kyle Beebe is not the same as saying he's treated all equally. Nor does it take away the appearance of conflict of interest.

The Marijuana Policy Project has been circulating a letter about Beebe's pardon. It says, in part:

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe recently announced he intends to pardon a young man convicted of a marijuana-related felony. The governor emphasized the importance of having a chance to get one's life back on track following such a conviction, especially for young people. Local press covering the pardon emphasized another aspect to this story: The young man is the governor's son, Kyle Beebe. Kyle was convicted of "possession with intent to deliver marijuana" in 2003.

In 2012, over 5,700 people were either arrested or cited for marijuana possession. Another 555 people just like Kyle were charged with felonies related to marijuana. Only a fraction will have an opportunity like the one Kyle has. Instead, most will face a lifetime of discrimination: A criminal record that can hurt job prospects, housing, and educational opportunities — long after the court sentence is over.

Arkansas needs a better approach. Like 19 other states, it can remove possible jail time for simple possession, bringing relief to thousands. ....

Even better, Arkansas should implement a system to tax and regulate marijuana for adults who choose a substance that is safer than alcohol — just like Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Why continue the reefer madness when there is now a better way?

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