Arizona Lawmakers Move to Strip Governor Jan Brewer of Commutation Power

Categories: News, Tough Gov
William Macumber.jpg
http://azjusticeproject.org
A group of state representatives has introduced a bill that would strip the governor of the power to commute prison sentences and hand it over to the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency.

The legislation, formally titled HCR 2025: the Arizona Commutation Reform Act, is designed to ease over-crowding and save money -- not to mention, spare the governor political pressure.

Here's how the commutation process works today: the Board of Executive Clemency holds monthly parole hearings for inmates who have committed offenses prior to January 1994, as well as clemency hearings -- including commutation and pardons. After two years in prison, inmates can apply to the board, which weeds out cases in two hearing phases then makes a written recommendation to the governor. The governor then decides whether to sign off on their commutation.

The problem, according to the Arizona Committee for Commutation Reform, is that tough-talking politicians -- like Jan Brewer -- don't have the stones to release an inmate for fear of a political backlash.

The BOEC estimates that 84 percent of cases recommended to the governor are rejected each year. According to a press release from the Arizona Committee for Commutation Reform, only 53 cases out of 340 total have been approved by the governor over the last six years. This has cost the state $25.7 million dollars in revenue to house prisoners towards whom the board has recommended leniency.

The BOEC press release goes on to say "once the Governor-appointed BOEC approves an inmate for a commutation of sentence, the process then moves on to the Governor's office where the decision becomes a political one -- the decision for the sake of all parties involved should rest on the individual case alone and not the political pressures inherent with an elected official."

The legislation comes in the wake of a controversy over the governor's refusal to commute a man's sentence despite the board's unanimous recommendation that he be released from prison.

William Macumber (pictured above) is the first man in Arizona history to be unanimously recommended for clemency by the board without a DNA exoneration. Macumber first applied for clemency December 15, 2008. On August 25, 2009 the board unanimously recommended in a letter to the governor that he be released, partly because of his "extraordinary accomplishments" in prison but also because of the "substantial doubt that Mr. Macumber is guilty of the crime for which he was convicted."

That "substantial doubt" stems from the fact that his wife, who worked in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office at the time of the murders, reported to her supervisors that he had "confessed" the crime to her -- a claim she made while they were going through a nasty divorce. Her son now believes that his mother framed his father, and so, apparently, does the parole board.

But Brewer didn't see it that way. In November 2009, she denied him clemency, but declined to elaborate.

Last October, Macumber's son, Ronald Kempfert, showed up at one of Brewer's press conferences and asked her to explain why she denied his father clemency. Brewer called it an "unfortunate situation," said she appreciated his "concerns," but had made her decision and it was "final." She abruptly ended her press conference.

Politicians are notoriously afraid to grant clemency or pardons lest the released prisoner commit a crime afterward, like Michael Dukakis and Mike Huckabee have learned -- the hard way. This bill would take that responsibility out of the governor's hands and place them into the board's, whose members are appointed by the governor to seek justice and reward reform, which the governor isn't always able or willing to do.

The bill was introduced by Reps. Cecil Ash, Daniel Patterson, Tom Chabin, Brenda Barton, Eric Meyer, Kate Brophy McGee, Richard Miranda, Peggy Judd, David Burnell Smith, and Catherine Miranda, as well as Sen. Ron Gould.


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8 comments
Skempfert
Skempfert

Well now its time to throw the other side into this argument.  The clemency process runs well when it is transparent and above board but severely fails when the people running it have an agenda to push.  I am one of Macumbers sons and was at his latest hearing.  Unlike the last hearing that we were NEVER informed of not had a chance to comment at.  In addition the Maricopa county DA was present as they had not been informed of the previous hearing either.

When the clemency board recommended clemency to William Macumber the last time they did so only hearing one side of the story and 1 man's wild accusations against my mother.  Lary Hammond.  Well this time he did not have the floor to himself and if you were present would see how pathetic this man really is as at the end of the hearing he went off on the incredible attemp at character assasination against my mother with untrue accusations on issues that really had no relelvency to the case.

In the end the board concluded several things.  1.  The palm prints liffted from the car were William Macumber and that the evidence presented at trial had not been tampered with. Ths shell casings were from his gun and the identification had been verified by several independent experts.

2. There was absolutely NO evidence of a conspiricy and that the accusations were completely baseless.

If I were you I would point your frustration at the clemency board for trying to ram this thru in the first place and coming DANGEROUSLY close to letting a double killer out of prison.  To all of you armchair quarterbacks at least make some attempt to know what your talking about BEFORE you post as all this does is make you look stupid.

Sleep well knowing that a murderer is still in prizon where he should be.

Steve Kempfert AKA Stephen Macumber

Disgusted
Disgusted

Why is it that Brewer has a problem going with the recommendations that the board, the people SHE appointed, makes? Could it be that she, and her advisors, are in cahoots with the CCA and the more inmates they can incarcerate and keep in prison, the more money they are going to pocket? Brewer recently denied another inmate any clemency that was recommended by the board, this was simply a reduced sentence not a get out of jail free card. 4 judges, the parole board, the victim of the crime, the prosecuting attorney, multiple law enforcement officials and overwhelming number of people in the community all agreed that the sentence received (mandatory minimum) was unjust, cruel, and unfair for the crime actually committed. Yet, Brewer denied the reduction.

There's something not right about this Governor and someone should look at her and her advisors connections to the money train and Arizona prisons.

truthseeker
truthseeker

This is a great bill. The Governor has proven she answers to no one. That's not being tough, that's how dictators operate. Texas Governor Rick Perry didn't care whether he executed an innocent person or not - in the Todd Willingham case and he won't be getting our votes. Mississippi Governor Barbour, the same and these are the Governors who want to be President of the United States? Wake up people! It's time to take the politics out of who determines who lives and who dies. These Governors are more concerned about getting elected than about the people they serve, it's time to take the "control and power" out of their hands. They have proven they can't handle power.

It's time to release Macumber -- and many others who we all know are innocent -- from prison saving not only millions upon millions of tax dollars that could be used for education, rehabilitation, training and jobs but right so many wrongs that have been done in Arizona.

Lyndsay
Lyndsay

My brother would have been released a year ago if the final decision had rested with the BOEC, who unanimously recommended a 2 year reduction on a harsh 7 year sentence. Instead, he will be out in late Nov. of this year, costing the state at least an extra $40,000, and my brother 2 more years of freedom. Napolitano denied the BOEC's recommendation in late Oct. of 2008, just days before Obama was elected. Highly unlikely that she ever even read it. Politics should be taken out of the equation!

Gregory Pratt
Gregory Pratt

Send me an email: gregory.pratt@newtimes.com

a visitor
a visitor

Nice to see some sanity from legislators...

The Unfortunate Governor
The Unfortunate Governor

Well, shit !!! A vengeful hag throwing poopoo at her erstwhile sweetie-poo. Wow, I never heard of that one. In addition, said hag is also an employee of Maricopa's most mendacious mediator of the poopoo story... the one, the only... yes, sir, the most fearless and most feared lawman since Judge Roy Bean, a man who needs no introduction, because he'll tell you himself... Sheriff Jose R. PieHo.This is an example of why I will never support capitol punishment. All it takes is one seriously twisted asshole with a hard-on for you and a job at the Kremlin West. and it's pink socks, orange coveralls and a syringe full of fun in your future, bucko.I hope the female filth that Mr. Macumber tragically said "I do" to suffers some equal tragedy that consumes the time alotted her husband by her lies. Bitch,And this crap that DNA research is the slam dunk case prover in any criminal contest is alot of bullshit. If don't believe me, ask Marc Goudeau.

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