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Barbour Defends Pardons

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 14 Jan 2012 04:55pm | comments

Former Governor Haley Barbour is speaking out about his decision to pardon or grant clemency to more than 200 convicted criminals. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that Barbour is strongly defending both the decision and its constitutionality.

At times defiant, and at times emotional, former Governor Haley Barbour is firmly defending his decision to pardon or grant clemency to more than 200 Mississippians.

Barbour called a press conference on short notice late Friday explaining his decision in terms of forgiveness and saving the state money caring for critically ill inmates.

He says nearly all have served their time, bringing the total number of inmates being released to 10.

"Those not released for health reasons, represent only 6/100ths of a percent of the people in our prisons," Barbour said.

That ten includes 5 men who worked as trustees at the Governor's mansion, of which four are convicted murderers.

Barbour expressed total confidence that they are not a threat.

"So much confidence that I have let my grandchildren play with these five men. I have let them ride their tricycles out in the drive-way with these men watching out for them. I have no doubt in my mind that these five men are not a threat to society," Barbour said.

Barbour also explained his decision in religious terms, saying as a Christian he believes in forgiveness and second chances.

He recalled a man named Leon Turner, who as prisoner convicted of murderer who was assigned to help Babour's family when Barbour was a child.

"Leon helped take care of us. He helped raise us. He was our playmate, our friend. My grandmother built him a house for his old age and his wife's old age. I watched the power of a second chance for Leon Turner," Barbour said.

Barbour claimed that a constitutional challenge by Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood is a political ploy.

Hood released a statement claiming as few as 14 pardons could be constitutionally valid, but has declined to comment further.

The calls for forgiveness fell flat with Tiffany Brewer, whose sister was murdered by one of the mansion trustees Barbour pardoned.

"I'm a Christian. I don't believe that God wants us to hate people or to have vengeance and I don't think anybody is out for vengeance. People just want justice," Brewer said.

A hearing in Hinds County Circuit Court is set for a week from today to determine the constitutionality of the pardons and the future of the people who received them.



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