LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Outgoing Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said Wednesday he plans to pardon his son's felony marijuana conviction, arguing he deserves the same second chance as hundreds of other nonviolent offenders.
Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said the two-term Democratic governor would pardon Kyle Beebe, 34, who was convicted in 2003 of felony marijuana possession with intent to deliver. DeCample said the governor planned to formally announce his intent to pardon his son in early December.
Beebe is leaving office in January due to term limits, and is being succeeded by Republican Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson. DeCample said Beebe has issued more than 700 pardons since taking office in 2007.
"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," DeCample said. "There's no reason why he wouldn't hold his son to that same standard."
Little Rock television station KATV first reported on Beebe's plans earlier Wednesday. The governor told the station he believed his son had grown since the 2003 conviction. His son applied for a pardon in June.
"I would have done it a long time ago if he'd have asked, but he took his sweet time about asking," Beebe 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."
The state Parole Board had recommended a pardon for Kyle Beebe in October. He was sentenced to three years supervised probation, $1,150 in fines and court costs and had his driver's license suspended for six months. Beebe was the state's attorney general when his son was convicted.
Beebe announced the pardon the same day he put on hold plans to pardon 34-year-old Michael Jackson, a childhood friend of his son and a former player on the peewee football team Beebe coached. There is a 30-day waiting period for public comment after Beebe announces intent to grant pardons before final action is taken.
Jackson was arrested in a 2007 Internet sting for trying to meet with an officer who posed as a 14-year-old girl in Faulkner County. He served a two-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to a felony charge for Internet stalking of a child. Beebe's office said he had received an affidavit Wednesday in an unrelated child custody case involving Jackson that levied new accusations against Jackson.
DeCample declined to elaborate on the accusations in the affidavit, which had not been filed late Wednesday afternoon. Beebe's office said the pardon would not be granted until and unless the accusations were found to be untrue. Some state legislators and law enforcement officials had criticized Beebe's decision to pardon Jackson.
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