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Washington police have identified Maurice Clemmons as the lone suspect in the murders of four police officers yesterday near Tacoma, Washington.

Clemmons is not unknown to Arkansas authorities:

Clemmons is a convicted criminal with a long rap sheet who had a 95-year prison sentence commuted in 2000 by then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, said Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer.

This isn't the first time a dangerous criminal received a commuted sentence from Mike Huckabee. During his time as Governor, he released convicted rapist Wayne Dumond....who went on to rape and murder two women in Missouri.

In fact, Bloomberg News notes Huckabee released an unusually high number of criminals during his time in office and this latest tragedy may end any discussion of him as a candidate in 2012:

“If you pardon someone and they do something, it’s bad news,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist. “It can come back to haunt you.”

Huckabee, in a statement on his Web site, said that if Clemmons is found to be responsible for the shooting, “it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system.”

Huckabee, who lost the Republican presidential nomination last year to John McCain, was criticized during the campaign for the number of clemencies granted to prisoners while he was governor.

According to an AP analysis at the time, Huckabee granted 1,033 clemencies during 10 years in office, more than double the number granted by three governors during the previous 17 years.

Clemmons has been arrested numerous times since Huckabee put him back on the streets, but that probably won't add any comfort to the families of the victims. This was an epic failure on numerous fronts, starting with the decision by Huckabee in 2000 to set him free.

For his part, Mike Huckabee has now released a statement, claiming no responsibility for setting him free in 2000.

The senseless and savage execution of police officers in Washington State has saddened the nation, and early reports indicate that a person of interest is a repeat offender who once lived in Arkansas and was wanted on outstanding warrants here and in Washington State. The murder of any individual is a profound tragedy, but the murder of a police officer is the worst of all murders in that it is an assault on every citizen and the laws we live within.

Should he be found to be responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State. He was recommended for and received a commutation of his original sentence from 1990, this commutation made him parole eligible and he was then paroled by the parole board once they determined he met the conditions at that time. He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him. It appears that he has continued to have a string of criminal and psychotic behavior but was not kept incarcerated by either state. This is a horrible and tragic event and if found and convicted the offender should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Our thoughts and prayers are and should be with the families of those honorable, brave, and heroic police officers.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 09:26 AM PST.

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