Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mississippi: The Governor Explains

The Newton Record has provided the responses of Governor Haley Barbour to reporters at a fair. The exchange included this:

Press: What about pardoning Michael David Graham, what about the family, should there have been some contact?

Barbour: There was. Fordice pardoned or suspended sentences for about 32 people, a large number of trustees that worked at the mansion. Musgrove about twenty six, including a number that worked at mansion. Since 1941, the servants at the governor's mansion were all trustees. Since I have been there, they have all been murderers, from the state penal system. The Department Of Corrections decides who can be a trustee and recommends to the Department of public safety who should work at mansion. The governor has nothing to do with it. But the DOC sends us trustees who have been trustees in the penal system before they are ever considered to be trustees at mansion. The trustee works hard to get there, has a really clean record. It gives them a chance to have a second chance. Unlike most in history I am serving a second term. There have only been two governors to serve two consecutive terms. When I got here I told the DPS, when they were interviewing the inmates, if they did their job and stayed out of trouble, had a blemish free record, at the end of my first term, I would pardon them. And that was the case. We first had to publish a public notice, write family of victim, write judge and write the prosecutor. I did hear from the district attorney and sheriff of Jackson county on Graham. Instead of pardoning him, I gave him a revocable suspended sentence.

I can’t take back a commutation. If I commute your sentence, I can’t put you back in jail, I gave him a revocable suspension, which means if he gets in trouble, doesn’t have a job or goes back to Jackson County, I can revoke him and he will have to go back to the penitentiary. Graham committed an awful crime, but he has spent 20 years paying and does literally have a blemish free record. So, I am treating just like I told them I would. If they stood up to the test, I will do what governors have done for decades. I would give them a second chance. I hope Michael Graham will go out and work hard and five years from now I will get to pardon him.
See full exchange here.

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