Mississippi's attorney general chastised former Republican Gov. Haley Barbour after a judge issued a temporary injunction forbidding the release of any more prisoners Barbour pardoned or gave clemency to before leaving office this week.Sounds like Barbour was well-intentioned. The clemency process was traditionally a check on prosecutors and was used as a way for the government to show mercy, a quality we hear discussed all the time but that is rarely practiced. Unfortunately, politics have really gutted the process and it's rarely used anymore. And then when it is, like in this case, everyone gets nuts and starts referencing Dukes of Hazzard.
State Attorney General Jim Hood said Barbour violated the state's constitution because the pardon requests for many inmates were not published 30 days before they were granted, as required.
Mississippi is one of the few states that requires advance notice.
Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Tomie Green issued the injunction Wednesday, saying it appeared some pardons, including those for four murderers, did not meet the 30-day requirement. Any inmates released in the future must meet the standard, Green ruled.
On his way out the door, the governor approved full pardons for nearly 200 people, including 14 convicted murderers, according to documents the Mississippi secretary of state's office released Tuesday.
The four murderers who received full pardons last week -- David Gatlin, Joseph Ozment, Charles Hooker and Anthony McCray -- were cited in Green's order.
They were all serving life sentences and worked as inmate trusties at the governor's mansion, said Suzanne Singletary, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Trusties are inmates who can receive additional rights through good behavior.
Hood told "AC360" that it's possible that those who didn't meet the 30-day requirement may have to return to prison and complete their sentences.
Barbour said Wednesday that some people misunderstand the clemency process and believe that most of the individuals were still jailed.
"Approximately 90 percent of these individuals were no longer in custody, and a majority of them had been out for years," he said in a statement.
"The pardons were intended to allow them to find gainful employment or acquire professional licenses as well as hunt and vote. My decision about clemency was based upon the recommendation of the Parole Board in more than 90 percent of the cases," Barbour wrote. "The 26 people released from custody due to clemency is just slightly more than one-tenth of 1 percent of those incarcerated."
Thursday, January 12, 2012
"He's tried to rule the state like Boss Hogg and he didn't think the law applied to him."
Oh no he didn't! Even though this deals with the Mississippi justice system, any Boss Hog reference will be posted here (you rarely hear an Uncle Jesse reference...). Plus, there's nothing like a good fight between two branches of government. From CNN: