Gov. Barbour's pardons prompt Democratic legislation - - The News for South Mississippi

Gov. Barbour's pardons prompt Democratic legislation

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

State democratic legislators say news of now former Governor Haley Barbour's pardons is sending shock waves across the state and nation.

The leader of the Democratic caucus has spoken with network news agencies about the former potential GOP presidential candidate's final acts.

Democratic Representatives Bobby Moak and David Baria have received calls from dozens of constituents and colleagues reeling from the news of the pardoned state prisoners.

Moak was interviewed Tuesday by CNN, MSNBC and the New York Times about former Governor Haley Barbour's actions.

"Going out the door with probably what is an inordinate number of pardons in comparison to the past 30 years even is something that he would have to answer and the folks of Mississippi would have to answer as to that," said Rep. Moak.

The Democratic Caucus leader said families of victims, law enforcement and communities feel ignored.

"This is a constitutional prerogative given executive branch," said Bogue Chitto House member. "This can be done, but it doesn't mean you can't step back talk to the families, talk to the community that was involved with these actions."

The lawmakers are working to re-introduce legislation Baria first presented in 2009 that would provide a mechanism for notice to families, law enforcement and the D.A. to mandate a hearing before the governor issued a pardon.

"Even if we leave the constitutional provision exactly the same it would go a long way to let people just be heard on this issue before the governor, whichever governor happens to be in office, does something with this. People want to be heard," Representative Baria said.

But state legislators want to even go a step further to prevent the release of more convicted murderers.

"The other bill that we're talking about filing would prevent those convicted of capital murder from serving as trusties at the Governor's Mansion because that appears to be a path to pardon," Rep. Baria said.

They hope the bill can pass this session despite Republican control of the House, Senate and executive branch.

Representative Earle Banks of Jackson was taken aback by the news of the pardons as word spread among House and Senate members.

"I have never in my years of being in public service seen any governor release such a mass number of inmates, but I think it's a disservice to the justice system that we have established in Mississippi where a person is tried and convicted by a jury and sentenced by a judge," Rep. Banks said. "I think it shows the public continuing attacks by Republicans on our criminal justice system as shown here and on our civil justice system as Republicans push Tort Reform in civil cases."

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