Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mississippi: Barbour In Focus

As Gov. Haley Barbour prepares to leave office, Geoff Pender of the Sun Herald is focusing on the potential last-minute use of clemency. To date, Pender says Barbour’s rare use of clemency appears "in line with other recent Mississippi governors in number and frequency." On the other hand, he use of the power has also "brought him many political slings and arrows."
He’s been criticized at times for not granting leniency to convicts, and for some of those he did spring. Though he may have been frugal in granting clemency, several of those he has released had been convicted of violent crimes and given long or life sentences. [Pundits] noted of six killers he had released, four had killed their girlfriends or ex-wives. One, whom he granted a 90-day furlough, had been convicted of kidnapping, robbing, beating and raping a woman in Starkville ... 
So, Mississippi College law professor Matt Steffe asks, reasonably enough, “Aren’t there people serving time for nonviolent crimes, who could be considered without doing further injury to families who have lost women in their lives?"

Pender notes Barbour also "drew outrage" from "victims’ families, law enforcement and lawmakers over the release of two South Mississippi killers" (Michael David Graham and Joseph Goff). On the other hand, he denied clemency requests from Jamie Scott and Gladys Scott, who were given life sentences for their involvement in a 1993 armed robbery.

In discussing the topic with Pender, the Editor of the Pardon Power blog learned that the governor of Mississippi is in a somewhat interesting situation so far as the restoration of civil rights is concerned. It appears that the legislative branch takes on this task, and does so on a regular basis. See full article here. The following list of pardons since 1980 is also provided:

Gov. William Winter:
1. Charles Henry Thomas, 11-30-1983, aggravated assault

Gov. Ray Mabus:
1. Gerald Keats Baldwin Jr., 1-13-1992, burglary
2. Elvin Wayne Wills, 1-13-1992, sale of controlled substance
3. Charley B. Newson, 1-13-1992, grand larceny
4. Calvin Wilks, 1-13-1992, murder

Gov. Kirk Fordice:
1. James Francis Arrington, 6-25-1992, burglary
2. Robert A. Geary III, 7-1-1996, grand larceny
3. Lum R. Cumbest, 5-19-1998, fraud in public office
4. Preston J. Romero Jr., 10-15-1998, grand larceny
5. David Burks Langford, 11-9-1998, sale of controlled substance
6. Everett W. Necaise Sr., 2-1-1999, robbery
7. Walley R. Naylor, 2-1-1999, armed robbery
8. Terry C. Hawkins, 4-16-1999, involuntary manslaughter
9. Billy Roy Pitts, 5-21-1999, arson and murder
10. Rickey Dean Britt, 11-1-1999, grand larceny
11. Roy R. Gerrard, 11-1-1999, embezzlement by a public official
12. Emory M. Wilson, 1-10-2000, armed robbery
13. Marion Lee Upchurch Sr., 1-10-2000, murder

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove:
1. Alex Thomas Bridge, 1-13-2004, possession of marijuana

Gov. Haley Barbour:
1. Paul Joseph Warnock, 7-16-2008, murder
2. Bobby Hayes Clark, 7-16-2008, manslaughter
3. Clarence Jones, 7-16-2008, murder
4. Willie James Kimble, 7-16-2008, murder
5. Michael J. Jones, 6-30-2011, sale of controlled substance

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