The fight to revise the Governor's pardoning power is now over for this legislative session. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how any bills not clearing committee by 8 last night are considered dead for this session.

" /> Legislature: Pardon Reform Dead in 2012 | News | Mississippi Public Broadcasting
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Legislature: Pardon Reform Dead in 2012

By Daniel Cherry | Published 06 Mar 2012 08:11pm | comments

The fight to revise the Governor's pardoning power is now over for this legislative session. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how any bills not clearing committee by 8 last night are considered dead for this session.

Bills in both chambers of the Mississippi legislature that would have altered pardons in Mississippi failed to make it out of their respective committees. The House version was filed in Judiciary Committee A. Chairman Mark Baker says Governor Phil Bryant claims he's not pardoning anyone so there's no need to get in a rush.

"It's very important that when there's not a matter of urgency, when the pressure of having to address an issue does not exist, then we have to be careful not to be knee-jerk so to speak about these issues and take the time to look at them."

But others like House Minority Leader, Bobby Moak, who co-sponsored a bill that would have required public hearings before any felon could be granted a pardon, think leaders dragged their feet addressing the issue.

"We had very few pieces of legislation on the calendar the first 6 or 7 weeks of this session, and I think we could have backed up and at least looked at it and tried to bring forward some legislation that addressed some of the issues that the families were really concerned about."

The push for pardon reform came after former Governor Haley Barbour pardoned nearly 200 convicted criminals during his last days in office. Senator Michael Watson filed legislation that would have restricted who could serve as a Governor's Mansion trusty. His bill failed too, and Watson says he's disappointed many legislators stopped pushing the matter once public outcry faded.

"That's what really bothered me, the folks that took this for political mileage. I'm not in this for political mileage. I'm in this for doing the right thing. That's why I did the research. That's why the Governor contacted me and said, 'Look, I know you have an interest in this. Will you give us a good suggestion for what we can do as Mississippi as a state to correct this from ever happening again?'"

Leaders say the issue could resurface in the coming years as legislators have more time to consider the impact on Mississippi.

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