The last five inmates remaining in prison after being pardoned by former Governor Haley Barbour were released over the weekend, following the Mississippi Supreme Court's decision to uphold the pardons. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how victims are calling for reform to the pardon system.

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AG Hood and Victims: Pardon Reform Needed

By Daniel Cherry | Published 11 Mar 2012 09:04pm | comments

The last five inmates remaining in prison after being pardoned by former Governor Haley Barbour were released over the weekend, following the Mississippi Supreme Court's decision to uphold the pardons. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how victims are calling for reform to the pardon system.

Since the state high court ruled to uphold all of former Governor Haley Barbour's end-of-term pardons, victims and those working on their behalf say the system has to change. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is pushing to change the state Constitution.

"Basically this court has written out a provision of our constitution that gives us all 30 days notice of a publication of a pardon. It means virtually nothing anymore. So therefore we're going to have to have an initiative to go in and add at least a sentence to it that says, 'A court shall enforce this provision.'"

This reaction comes on the heels of the 6 to 3 Supreme Court ruling finding the judiciary should not overturn a governor's pardon. Tom Fortner represented 4 of the Governor's Mansion trusties receiving pardons. He says it was a serious constitutional issue, and he thinks the court got it right.

"I'm pleased with the decision. I'm sorry for the families of the victims in this case. I know that they feel badly about this, and I apologize for that, but I do think this was the right decision."

But some victims and their families see the issue differently. David Gatlin, one of the mansion trusties who was pardoned, was convicted of murdering his estranged wife Tammy, and shooting her longtime friend Randy Walker in the head. Walker survived and he says this ruling is an injustice.

"I can't be pardoned. I can't see Tammy again. I'll never talk to her again. But as far as the Governor (Barbour) is concerned, and as far as David Gatlin's record is concerned that day just never happened. It did happen to me, and I still live it every day."

Attempts by legislators to reform the state's pardon system were all unsuccessful. All pardon reform legislation died in committee last week.

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