Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe's son gets drug arrest pardon

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe is facing questions about a pending pardon for his son

When Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe's son Kyle was arrested for possession of a controlled substance - two ounces of marijuana - with the intent to deliver in 2003, the governor said: "If he broke the law, he needs to pay for it. He needs to be treated like everybody else - no better, worse."

The son was sentenced to three years of probation, which he served without incident.

Eleven years later, Mr Beebe says he will pardon his son, expunging his felony record. Some are wondering whether "everybody else" will be pardoned for what the governor calls "stupid stuff" they did in their youth.

The outgoing Democratic governor told KATV News he would have pardoned his son long ago, but Kyle, 34, "took his sweet time about [asking for] it". He also said that the action was unanimously recommended by the state Pardons and Parole Board (whose members are appointed by the governor).

Jacoba Urist, writing for NBC's Today Parents, says the governor risks being seen as a "snowplow" parent, who clears problems out of the lives of troubled children.

"It's a real concern, not just for affluent parents, but for anyone who attempts to make our kids' lives friction-free," Robert Pondiscio, a New York City teacher and father of a 16-year old girl, tells her. "At some point, you run the risk of insulating kids from the consequences of their actions. This seems like a particularly egregious example."

Stephanie McCratic, who runs a PR firm, counters that Mr Beebe is actually setting a good example.

"He has to take care of his family too, and it's a very conflicting place to live in," she tells Urist. "But the truth is, he made his son come ask for the pardon. The governor didn't volunteer it."

But what about all the non-Beebes across the US whose records will never be wiped clean? Kaili Joy Gray writes in Wonkette that they should get a second chance as well.

"Makes Ya Think that the whole Beebe family should be working real hard, every day, to try to reform our criminal justice system and end our dumb, pointless war on drugs so that people just like Kyle Beebe, whose lives have also been forever altered and who have served much harsher sentences for the same so-called crime, can have the same opportunity to be the men, and women, they know they can be too," she says.

Earlier this month Mr Beebe also announced intentions to pardon a family friend who was convicted in 2008 of the internet stalking a child. Within a week, his office put the pardon on hold, having learned of additional allegations in a child custody case.

Mr Beebe has issued more than 700 pardons during his time in office - hundreds fewer than his predecessor, Republican Mike Huckabee, who has been criticised for approving the requests of more serious felons.

"No way to make a pardon for your son look pure, not when Beebe has been so famously parsimonious with the pardon power," writes Max Brantley for the Arkansas Times.

In January Mr Beebe will be replaced as governor by Republican Congressman Asa Hutchinson, who served as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration under President George W Bush.

(By Micah Luxen)

Related Topics