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Poll: Mississippians Still Support Pardoning Powers

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 10 Feb 2012 05:48pm | comments
Matt Steffey and Jim Rosenblatt

As the Mississippi Supreme Court examines the constitutionality of former Governor Haley Barbour's pardons, a new polls finds a majority of Mississippians say they believe pardons are still appropriate. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the poll also found disagreement about how the pardons should be used in the future.

The pardons are a hot topic among first year law students in a classroom at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson.

"Either take away his power to pardon, or do something instead of complaining after the fact,"

"The governor does have a right to pardon, but it seems like the big issue hangs on whether the names were published,"

"Any future governor in Mississippi, whether it is Democrat or Republican, they are going to think very careful about this,"

That's Phillip Powell, Lance Martin and J.C. Fleming who, like many Mississippians, have been tracking the controversy following the more than 200 pardons issued by former Governor Haley Barbour.

the issue gained national attention, and the school surveyed 500 Mississippians to gauge statewide public opinion.

Mississippi College Law professor Matt Steffey says the poll found that there is still wide spread support for pardons.

"67% of folks said that pardons are at least sometimes appropriate, as opposed to only 16% that said pardons are never appropriate. Which really speaks to me as an overwhelming number," Steffey said.

However, the poll also found that a majority feel the pardoning power should be shared between the Governor and parole board, and that victims and the public should have a bigger voice in the process.

Changing how the pardon system functions would take agreement of the legislature or constitutional amendment, but college Dean Jim Rosenblatt says informal changes could take place.

"The current pardon system could be modified in a voluntary way. One who has pardon authority could, on his own, establish procedures and put policies into effect with having to change the Mississippi constitution or having to enact any new law," Rosenblatt said.

While the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of the pardons, several bills have already been introduced in the Mississippi legislature that could change how pardons are handled in the state.

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Matt Steffey and Jim Rosenblatt


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