Two South Arkansas inmates, including a Columbia County man imprisoned since 1993, have been notified that Governor Asa Hutchinson intends to grant commutations of their sentences.
Hutchinson’s office issued his monthly list of commutations and pardons on Tuesday.
Nelson Watson Jr., now age 83, was convicted by a Columbia County jury on a charge of manufacture, delivery and possession of a controlled substance, and for being a habitual offender. Watson was 46 when he was convicted of the same offense in 1986, but was arrested again in 1993 on the drug charge and multiple counts of passing hot checks. He received a life sentence on the drug charge.
The governor has given notice of his intent to commute Watson’s sentence. Having served 27 years, the commutation would make him immediately eligible for parole.
The 13th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has objected to Watson’s commutation request.
Of the 201 Columbia County men incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, only six have been in prison longer than Watson – and five of them are serving life sentences for murder.
Watson is held at the Cummins Unit.
The other South Arkansas inmate receiving a commutation is Craig Williams, 47. Williams was convicted in Union County in 2006 to a staggering 182 years in prison for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, habitual offender, simultaneous possession of drugs/firearms, possession of firearms by certain persons, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, and distribution near certain facilities enhancement.
The commutation would make Williams eligible for parole on June 30, 2026.
The 13th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has also objected to Williams’ commutation request.
Williams is held in the Delta Regional Unit at Dermott.
Hutchinson plans to grant pardons to two other inmates from South Arkansas.
Beverly K. Clanton of Hermitage was convicted in 2003 and 2004 of possession of drug paraphernalia, and probation revocation.
Clanton’s notice was based on the date of conviction, the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further felony criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.
Otis Haddox of Ashdown was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Miller County in 1973. Haddox’s notice was based on the date of conviction, the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further felony criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.