Add this to the list of government hypocrisies in the drug war: Outgoing Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe granted a pardon that cleared his own son of a marijuana conviction.
Unlike most people charged with cannabis offenses, who must endure the burden of a criminal record, Kyle Beebe will now have a clean slate, thanks to his father. The governor has issued similar pardons to a handful of other people convicted of weed crimes, but most are forced to live with the legal consequences for the rest of their lives.
Beebe has issued about 700 pardons since he took office in 2007, his spokesman said.
“A significant number of those have been young first-time drug offenders because he believes that if you make a mistake especially with nonviolent crime and you straighten your life out, you deserve a second chance,” said spokesman Matt DeCample. “There’s no reason why he wouldn’t hold his son to that same standard.”
Beebe Jr. convicted of possession with intent to deliver
Kyle Beebe was convicted in 2003 of felony marijuana possession with intent to deliver. DeCample said the governor planned to announce the pardon in December.
Nearly 100,000 Americans are currently behind bars for drug offenses. That’s more than 50 percent of the total U.S. inmate population. And more than a quarter of those convictions involved marijuana, more than any other drug.
That means about 30,000 people are languishing in jail for doing nothing more serious than buying, possessing, growing, or selling weed. Few of those people will ever secure a pardon, not from their governors and not from President Obama.
Cannabis ‘criminals’ must face consequences for life
Instead, the cannabis inmates who are eventually released must carry a permanent rap sheet that makes it harder to get jobs, rent apartments, and obtain government benefits, among other problems.
Beebe told a local TV station in Little Rock that he believes his son has matured since his conviction and turned his life around.
“I would have done it a long time ago if he’d have asked, but he took his sweet time about asking,” the governor told KATV. “He was embarrassed. He’s still embarrassed, and frankly, I was embarrassed and his mother was embarrassed. All of the families that go through that, it’s tough on the families, but hopefully the kids learn.”
Beebe, a Democrat, is leaving office after two terms and will be replaced by Asa Hutchinson, a Republican.
His son applied for a pardon and was backed by the Arkansas Parole Board. Now that the governor announced his plans, the public will be able to comment until mid-December.
But that doesn’t mean any of Beebe’s pardons can be overturned. The right of governors and the president to issue pardons is absolute and cannot be challenged in court. Numerous executive officials have drawn controversy for their pardons over the years. It’s common practice, for example, to pardon campaign donors who run into trouble.