Sunday, April 1, 2012

Despite national outcry, no changes likely to Mississippi's pardon process

When he ruled Amendment No. 1 to Senate Bill 2195 not germane to the legislation, Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton) became the latest in a long line of Republicans who have have denied modification to Mississippi's pardon process, a process that drew nationwide scrutiny following then Governor Haley Barbour's pardon of hundreds of Mississippi felons in January.

Among the bills that were killed during the 2012 session were House Bill 27, a measure that would require the parole board to provide a non-binding recommendation on pending pardon requests; House Bill 29, a measure that would prevent murderers from serving as trustys; House Bill 36, a measure that would require pardon applicants to give notice to local law enforcement officials so that a public hearing could be arranged; and House Bill 182, a measure that would make certain offenders ineligible for additional earned time.

It will be interesting to see if Governor Barbour's pardons coupled with his party's unwillingness to work with Democrats to develop any meaningful reform will create problems for legislators in districts where some of the more notable crimes occurred. 

Randy Walker, a victim of one of the recipients of a Barbour pardon had this to say last week, "The elected officials sit in their air-conditioned offices and collect a check we provide.  They're not listening to the voice of Mississippi."  Expect to hear more statements like this one when legislators are back on the ballot.

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