Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"A slap in the face"

Betty Ellis (left), mother of murder victim Tammy Gatlin, speaks as the victim's sister, Tiffany Brewer, wipes her eyes, during a news conference Monday at the state Capitol in Jackson on the pardon of her daughter's killer, David Glenn Gatlin. / Rick Guy/The Clarion-Ledger
Yesterday, a media wildfire erupted for outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour (R) over his prolific use of pardons to set convicted murders free.  Although covered by outlets such as Headline News and the Washington Post (currently has 79 comments), the most comprehensive article on the subject appears to be the Clarion-Ledger story written by Jessica Blakeman.

In response, the Mississippi House Democratic Caucus held a press conference at the Capitol, and were joined by members of the families of the victims of the men Barbour pardoned. The press conference was understandably quite emotional. Mark McAbee, the nephew of murder victim Ricky Montgomery, described the crime committed by a man Barbour pardoned Sunday:
“One of the other ones shot my uncle three times. He was crawling toward Joseph Ozment for help. He didn’t know Joseph Ozment was involved. He was crawling to him for help. Joseph Ozment put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger twice,” McAbee said.

He called the pardon “a slap in the face.”
As noted here yesterday, House Democrats are seeking to pass legislation to prevent future governors from wielding unmitigated pardon power. According to the Clarion-Ledger:
A bill sponsored by Rep. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, would require a public hearing before a governor could pardon a prisoner convicted of a felony. The same bill was killed in a Senate committee last year, and in 2010, a similar amendment was removed from a parole board bill in a House committee.

Baria also said he intends to propose legislation this year that would preclude those convicted of capital murder from serving as trusties in the mansion.
This is an issue that has legs, and will quite possibly result in changes to the pardon process. For his part, incoming Gov. Phil Bryant (R) stated that he would not pardon murderers, due to the fact that he lost his aunt to murder.

It remains to be seen whether Baria's legislation can make it through the Republican-controlled House and Senate. If it does, it will be interesting to see whether Bryant will sign legislation limiting his own power.

1 comment:

mississippi citizen said...

Did these guys have naked pictures of Haley?