By now, residents of Arkansas know that their governor will pardon his son for a 2003 conviction for felony marijuana possession with intent to deliver. The Arkansas Parole Board recommended the pardon on Oct. 20. The pardon was granted on the basis of a petition filed by Kyle Beebe, 34, the governor’s son, who asked for the pardon of his felony drug charge.
The son was contrite about his prior activities of selling marijuana. He asked for a second chance to show his parents that he could be the son that they raised. Governor Beebe in interviews seemed to go down a slippery slope when he indicated that he had influence in the pardon process.
He said he “would have done it” sooner but his son was too embarrassed to ask for it. The governor also said that their son had broken his mother’s heart. He didn’t mention, however, the many broken hearts of other Arkansas mothers in similar circumstances. He also did not discuss the need to provide far more pardons for others in similar situations.
The Parole Board insisted that the man had gotten no special treatment. Law enforcement bodies did not object. All of that is well and good, but the appearance of favoritism appears difficult to avoid. The numbers of persons granted pardons for the same or lesser crimes are very minimal. The government of Arkansas and all other governments, state and federal, turn down the vast majority of applications.
In fact, the chances of getting a pardon for a felony drug charge are infinitesimally small. Criticism has been leveled against state and federal governments regularly in past years due to the tendencies toward political favoritism that are associated with many pardons. The pardons granted by prior Presidents of the United States proves the point. However, considering the trend toward decriminalization and legalization, perhaps the numbers of pardons available for marijuana convictions should now be greatly increased. That would give some moral legitimacy to the governor’s actions in this matter.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe To Pardon Son On Drug Charge“, Sam Levine, Nov. 12, 2014