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Haley Barbour Pardons 14 Murderers; Judge Orders Halt

by Speranza ( 16 Comments › )
Filed under Crime, Headlines at January 12th, 2012 - 7:08 am

It just shows you that Republicans can be as full of spit as Democrats. Haley Barbour an allegedly conservative law & order governor on his way out of office has pardoned 14 convicted murderers.

by Patrik Jonsson

A law-and-order Republican governor, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, has given full pardons or clemency to 208 inmates, including 14 convicted murderers, setting off a political uproar over the limits of executive power in the traditionally patriarchal South.

Mr. Barbour, a popular two-term governor who was term-limited from serving more, signed the pardons before leaving office on Tuesday. The surprise spree caught both Republicans and Democrats off stride, and it suggested that Barbour, who had flirted with running for the White House last year, may be leaving politics for good.

The release Sunday of one convicted killer, David Gatlin, raised fears among those who knew his victim, a slain wife and mom, that he would try to “finish what he started,” CNN reported.

More broadly, the pardons have scrambled traditional political roles in the state, with the Republican Barbour going easy on scores of convicted criminals and Democrats clamoring to bolster law and order. Toward that end, they reintroduced a bill to curb gubernatorial pardon power.

“It seems to kind of fly in the face of the Haley Barbour politician that we all know, because he is a strong law-and-order guy,” says Curtis Wilkie, a journalism professor at Ole Miss in Oxford.

Barbour has refused to comment on the pardons. Several are high-profile convicts, including Jackson socialite Karen Irby, convicted of manslaughter in 2010 for the DUI-related deaths of two doctors; Earnest Scott Favre, older brother of retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre, who was convicted for the DUI-related death of his friend; and Azikiwe Kambule, a South African expat convicted in a 1996 carjacking and murder case.

Eighty of the pardoned prisoners had committed crimes including murder, homicide, manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault (including one on a police officer), and armed robbery. Thirty-two of those prisoners received full pardons, meaning they were set free without conditions.

Other pardoned prisoners include inmates who worked at the Governor’s Mansion under a “good behavior” program that traditionally has been a route to clemency or pardon.

Pardons have long been a controversial executive tool, often leading to charges of favoritism. President Clinton, for one, made controversial pardon decisions upon leaving office.

The torrid pardon pace by Barbour outdistanced other Mississippi governors by a wide margin. Former Gov. Kirk Fordice had the previous high, pardoning 13. Before this week’s pardons, Barbour had previously signed the release papers for 10 convicted criminals, none of whom have caused any trouble, the Mississippi Department of Corrections commissioner, Christopher Epps, told Mississippi reporters.

[......]

To be sure, Barbour’s pardons may help to challenge perceptions about the ability of people to be rehabilitated by the criminal justice system. The pardons could also spur discussion about whether the gubernatorial power to act extrajudicially is warranted in many cases. In recent years, US governors have granted clemency, for example, to death-row inmates whose claims of innocence were not heard by the justice system, even though they had been exonerated by DNA testing.

Last summer, Barbour was hailed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as a “shining example” for commuting the life sentences of two African-American women who had spent 16 years in prison for an armed robbery that yielded $11.

“Pardoning power does have a certain value, and so do the innocence projects that have been set up across the nation, because it does permit a more careful after-the-fact examination of circumstances and evidence,” says Professor Winkle.

In Mr. Favre’s case, he had been sentenced originally to a year of house arrest but was ordered to serve a suspended 15-year prison sentence after he left his house to go fishing. In pardoning Mr. Kambule, Barbour may have heeded pleas from his attorneys that there was no evidence that the then-teenager fired the fatal shots that killed a Madison County woman in 1996, a crime for which Kambule was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

“There are a whole lot of people in prison who should not be there,” Chokwe Lumumba, a Jackson City councilman, told The Clarion-Ledger. “Obviously, murder is the kind of thing you put people in [prison] for … but that doesn’t mean that people cannot be rehabilitated.”

Other Mississippians say Barbour simply went too far. “He will not comment on anything,” Tiffany Ellis Brewer, sister of the woman slain by the pardoned Mr. Gatlin, told CNN. “We have no answers as to why he has done this. I would like to think he did not have all of the facts of the case…. Apparently, we haven’t had a really good man for our governor.”

The sheer number and breadth of offenses has been difficult for both Republicans and Democrats to reconcile, especially coming as the last note of a governorship that received, on par, high marks, particularly for Barbour’s work in helping Mississippi recover from hurricane Katrina in 2005.

[......]

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16 Responses to “Haley Barbour Pardons 14 Murderers; Judge Orders Halt”
( jump to bottom )

  1. mfhorn
    1 | January 12, 2012 7:55 am

    Damn. My respect for Mr. Barbour just dropped through the floor. Full pardons for 14 murderers? Way overboard.


  2. 2 | January 12, 2012 8:06 am

    I want a pardon! How much does one cost?


  3. Speranza
    3 | January 12, 2012 8:29 am

    Iron Fist wrote:

    I want a pardon! How much does one cost?

    Barbour always made me feel uncomfortable just as his fellow sell out Republican Trent Lott did.


  4. Speranza
    4 | January 12, 2012 8:33 am

    There was a Democratic governor of Tennessee named Ray Blanton who also did a midnight last day in office bunch of pardons -- he wound up in jail.

    From the link

    Receiving the most attention was Roger Humphreys, who had murdered his ex-wife and her lover in 1973 and was not up for parole until 1984. Blanton commuted his sentence to time served. Humphreys, the son of a Blanton campaign manager, had already been subject to cushy treatment, including working as a photographer for the state. Blanton summoned Tennessee Secretary of State Gentry Crowell to his office to witness the process and, commenting on the mass clemency, said, “This takes guts.” Crowell is said to have bitterly replied, “Yeah, well, some people have more guts than brains.”


  5. coldwarrior
    5 | January 12, 2012 8:38 am

    ??? What ???

    ummm, 14 convicted murderers pardoned by a republican governor and so called conservative???

    what planet did i wake up on today?


  6. Fritz Katz
    6 | January 12, 2012 8:41 am

    Last summer, when Obama wanted to raise the debt ceiling a few trillion dollars the RINO Senate and House leadership handed it to him without a fight. The didn’t want to be accused of ‘shutting down the govt.’ by a lapdog media. Only a precious few stood on principle. Haley Barbour criticized DeMint for not supporting Boehner.


  7. Speranza
    7 | January 12, 2012 8:41 am

    coldwarrior wrote:

    ??? What ???
    ummm, 14 convicted murderers pardoned by a republican governor and so called conservative???
    what planet did i wake up on today?

    Nothing to be surprised about -- Barbour is just another good old boy establishment type. These guys (outside of their B.S. rhetoric) are almost indistinguishable from Democrats.


  8. 8 | January 12, 2012 8:44 am

    @ Speranza:

    Yeah, Blanton is who I thought of when I heard about this. Him and Clinton. Great company Barbour is keeping. Well, it looks like he’s decided he never wants to run for President. After this, I’d say that is, as convicted Felon Martha Stewart says, a good thing.


  9. waldensianspirit
    9 | January 12, 2012 8:46 am

    Which year was it? We all forgave him for some ignorant remarks?


  10. huckfunn
    10 | January 12, 2012 8:46 am

    Not so fast Mr. Barbour. Judge blocks controversial Miss. pardons


  11. huckfunn
    11 | January 12, 2012 8:49 am

    @ huckfunn:
    Oops! I missed that part about “Judge Orders Halt”. Never mind.


  12. coldwarrior
    12 | January 12, 2012 8:53 am

    Speranza wrote:

    coldwarrior wrote:
    ??? What ???
    ummm, 14 convicted murderers pardoned by a republican governor and so called conservative???
    what planet did i wake up on today?

    Nothing to be surprised about – Barbour is just another good old boy establishment type. These guys (outside of their B.S. rhetoric) are almost indistinguishable from Democrats.

    ahhh, another establishment spineless rino in the gop, i did wake up on the right planet this morning.

    maybe he wants his very own willy horton?


  13. Speranza
    13 | January 12, 2012 8:57 am

    coldwarrior wrote:

    ahhh, another establishment spineless rino in the gop, i did wake up on the right planet this morning.

    maybe he wants his very own willy horton?

    Trent Lott on Bush’s amnesty plan “We are going to have to do something about ‘Talk radio’ “.


  14. Speranza
    14 | January 12, 2012 8:58 am

    @ Iron Fist:
    Follow Barbour’s post gubernatorial career -- you might find an answer.


  15. waldensianspirit
    15 | January 12, 2012 9:00 am

    Good PA got Corbett instead of Barbour. Barbour would pardon Sandusky if convicted


  16. darkwords
    16 | January 14, 2012 5:02 pm

    What the barbour interview on this made me that was that he was getting blowjobs from the people he pardoned


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