In the later part of his final term, Arkansas Governor, Michael Beebe, has handed out hundreds of pardons, the majority of which have been to young people convicted of non-violent drug charges. The most recent pardon is under the microscope because it involves the Governor’s own son, Kyle Bebee.
Kyle Beebe was convicted of a class-C felony for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in 2003. Although, he was fortunate enough to avoid time in jail, he did serve three years of supervised probation and paid hefty fines. At the time of the arrest, current Governor Beebe was the attorney general for the state of Arkansas. According to a local newspaper, in response to his son’s arrest, Mike Beebe stated, “If he broke the law, he needs to pay for it. He needs to be treated like everybody else-no better, worse.”
Now, more than ten years later, Kyle Beebe has submitted a lengthy letter requesting a pardon from this conviction. In the letter, Kyle wrote, “I am asking for a second chance to be a better son to my parents and prove to them that I am the person they raised me to be. At the time of my arrest I was living in a fantasy world, not reality. I was young and dumb. At that time in my life I felt like I was missing something and I tried to fill that emptiness by selling drugs.”
Governor Beebe has publicly stated that he intends to grant his son this pardon, explaining to Channel 7 News,
“I would have done it a long time ago if he’d have asked, but he took his sweet time about asking. 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.
Although Governor Beebe is receiving scrutiny on the topic of pardoning his own son, Arkansas Parole Board spokesman assured Channel 7 News that there has been no foul play, “I can tell you that [Kyle] Beebe did not receive any special treatment by the Board while his application was under consideration.” Last month, with no objection from law enforcement, the Arkansas Parole Board voted to recommend that Kyle Beebe be granted a pardon, and it is anticipated to take effect before the end of the year.
Should Governor Beebe pardoning his own son be seen as favoritism? Only if the same courtesy had not been extended to so many others with similar circumstances. In the state of Arkansas, pardons may only be granted to those who submit a formal, written request.
Perhaps, if he could have, Governor Beebe would have granted a pardon to all young people convicted of non-violent drug offenses, but that just is not how it works. Unfortunately, for those with drug convictions who did not realize that a pardon could possibly be attained by simply asking, all future pardon requests will be the responsibility of the newly elected Governor, William Asa Hutchinson. It is unknown if his policy will be as forgiving to those with marijuana convictions.
photo credit: WHOTV