But, in fact, as every person who knows anything about the exercise of the pardon power, state or federal, knows, the typical pardon is given to someone who has committed a minor, non-violent crime, years (often decades ago). They have served their time (if there ever was any), taken care of all fines (if there ever were any) and the degree to which they have been law-abiding since the offense has been examined by a board, a commission or the FBI. The pardon, thus, does not spring anyone from prison. It merely restores their civil rights. the right to vote, to serve on a jury, to hold public office, to travel without restrictions, to own a hunting rifle, etc.
Now, to be sure, the average Joe may not be aware of all of this, but Haley Barbour is no average Joe. Indeed, Barbour is often acclaimed for his shrewd, savvy political acumen. Yet, he ignored the pardon power for eight years, dumps a bunch of pardon on his last day in office, then comes on Meet the Press and says:
"Sure, we could have done it better because we had no idea that the reporting of it, in particular some of the misstatements by political opponents, would let the public think we'd let some 200 people out of the penitentiary ... Most of them had been out for years and years and years."Which is to say, we are to believe this brilliant man had no earthly idea that the most common misconception of pardons would be a significant factor in his last-minute out-the-door pardoning spree. Will Barbour next be amazed that the laws of gravity apply to him as well? What an idiot / liar (take your choice). See Meet the Press summary here.