U.S. governor Mike Beebe has announced that he will pardon his son's 11-year-old marijuana conviction.
The Arkansas official, who will leave office in January due to term restrictions, told a local television station on Wednesday that his son, Kyle Beebe, 34, is entitled to the same second chance as other nonviolent criminals.
"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."
Kyle Beebe was convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver in 2003. Local media reports from the time say that he was caught with “more than an ounce of marijuana in a plastic bag.” He was sentenced to three years supervised probation, US$1,150 in fines and court costs and had his driver's license suspended for six months.
Beebe's spokesman Matt DeCample argued that the Democrat governor had pardoned more than 700 offenders since taking office in 2007, and that his son's case fitted the same profile.
"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."
However state wide statistics show that over 10 times as many people are charged each year with marijuana possession than the governor has pardoned in his time in office. In 2013 alone, 7,610 people were charged with marijuana possession in Arkansas, according to the Arkansas Crime Information Center.