Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mississippi: Oh Lordy!

In a classic case of burning down the house to roast the pig, State Sen. Michael Watson (R) has filed a constitutional amendment aimed at  completely overhauling the State's clemency practices. It is reported that the amendment would create “tiered” system (because we all know that voters crave those!) that would "forbid pardons for the most violent crimes, such as capital murder, murder, capital rape and violence against children, unless there were clear evidence, such as DNA, of a wrongful conviction." A second tier of crimes could be addressed with pardon if the State Parole Board "recommended it or a mistake had been made." Finally, for non-violent crimes, the governor would "retain carte blanche pardon powers."

All of this is, of course, in response to Haley Barbour's last-minute pardon spree. Watson is, apparently OK with last-minute pardon sprees which involve non-violent crimes - which would include most of Barbour's pardons. Which is to say, the amendment would, after all of its tier-making and discriminating between offenses, not at all address most of what Barbour did. Great.

Other amendments have been filed which would prohibit a governor from granting a pardon within the last 90 days he or she is in office or require the State Parole Board approval before any felony crimes could be pardoned. See full story here.

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