The Governor Shall Have Power To Grant Reprieves And Pardons

Submitted By milesmcg123
Words: 305
Pages: 2

“THE governor shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons,” states the constitution of Mississippi. But until his final days in office, Haley Barbour did not make much use of it. He granted no pardons or other forms of clemency at all during his first four-year term, and only eight in his second—until this month, when he issued over 200 before stepping down on January 10th. The objects of his mercy included murderers, kidnappers, sex offenders, a carjacker and an arsonist.

The last-minute fit of compassion from Mr Barbour, a Republican who toyed with running for president this year, has Mississippi up in arms. Victims and their relatives complain that blind justice has been supplanted by caprice. The state's attorney-general, a Democrat, points out that not all the beneficiaries seem to have fulfilled the constitution's requirement that they provide 30 days' notice of their intention to seek a pardon in a local newspaper. He has persuaded a judge to prevent any more of them being released from prison (five already have been) while he seeks to have their pardons overturned. Members of the state legislature, meanwhile, have introduced a bill to curb the governor's powers of clemency.

In his defence, Mr Barbour has pointed out that he was simply following the recommendation of Mississippi's parole board in the vast majority of cases. What is more, only 26 of those pardoned were still in prison. The rest had completed their sentences, in some instances years before,…