The fire storm swirling around the pardoned prisoners in Mississippi is stirring up a lot of debate in the classroom. WLOX talked to Criminal Justice students at USM who are interested in law enforcement, social work, and the court system.
If you think they would all be outraged over the pardons by former Governor Haley Barbour, think again. Some students support Barbour's actions.
This week, Criminal Justice students at the Gulf Coast Student Service Center in Gulfport are learning how forensic evidence is used in prosecuting domestic violence cases. The topic has certainly sparked a lot of debate, since some of the prisoners pardoned by Barbour were involved in domestic violence crimes.
"When they're convicted, they're guilty," said USM Junior Lorie Segura. "For people like Anthony McCray and David Gatlin who shot their wives, some premeditated, some while they're holding their babies, I don't understand the reason behind those pardons."
Segura voiced concerns about setting convicted murderers free.
"And for them to be able to be out with a full pardon, that part also disturbs me because now everything is expunged," said Segura.
However, several students sided with Barbour's decisions.
"Elderly, sickly, maybe cancer victims, and it's mainly the people who don't pose a threat to society any longer. I don't see a problem with them being released," said USM Junior Doyle Moran. "I mean, if they're not going to pose a threat to society, why clog up an already crowded jail system that we have?"
Many students said they don't have all the facts yet to judge everyone who got a reprieve. They're putting their trust in Barbour's judgment.
"He apparently chose those people for a certain reason," said USM Sophomore Cara Rodgers. "From what I know of him, I trust him not to let out any one who's going to be a danger to the community."
"Everyone deserves a second chance and just because you did something one time, it was a mistake. You may not repeat that again. You got to give him the benefit of the doubt," said USM Junior Tonya Harris.
Several students suggested that all the pardoned prisoners should undergo a psychological evaluation to make sure they're stable enough to be released back into society. Another student said there should be some sort of a notification system to let people know if the released inmates are moving into their neighborhood.
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