An interim legislative panel voted unanimously Thursday to commission a study on Arkansas’ controversial clemency laws, setting up a possible showdown with Gov. Mike Huckabee. Sen. Bobby Glover, D-Carlisle, who introduced the proposal, told members of both the Senate and House Interim Judiciary committees that he was concerned about the number of clemencies that the governor has given to state prisoners during his tenure in office, reports the Arkansas News Bureau. According to news reports, Huckabee has awarded more pardons and commutations than the previous three governors.
Earlier this year, Huckabee came under intense scrutiny and criticism from victims’ families, prosecutors and law-enforcement officials concerning his clemency policy. He has granted nearly 600 pardons and cut short more than 110 prisoners’ sentences since he took office eight years ago. In July, Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley asked the governor to stop issuing clemencies until the Legislature can consider possible changes in the constitution, which gives the governor that power.