Governor Bryant weighs in on pardons - - The News for South Mississippi

Governor Bryant weighs in on pardons

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

For now, everything is on hold, thanks to the late night injunction granted by a Hinds County judge after Attorney General Jim Hood filed the papers to stop the release of any more criminals which have received a pardon from former Governor Haley Barbour.

"The only ones that we're dealing with is those who were actually given a full pardon," said Hood.

That keeps 21 people locked up until a court hearing.

For the five released earlier this week who worked as trusties at the governor's mansion, four of them convicted murders, Hood says they better not go far because they may find themselves right back in jail

"Under our laws we could not go out and arrest them until we hold a hearing," said Hood.

On the list of nearly 200 names pardoned by Barbour, most have been out of prison for years and are just now receiving the pardon, but Hood says most of them should be voided since Barbour didn't follow the state constitution in granting them, which requires a thirty day notice in a local newspaper.

Now the attorney general's office is starting the process of going through about 175 cases to find out whether those individuals had the notifications published.

"This is going to be an arduous process, but the law is clear, the governor didn't follow it," said Hood.

"This is Governor Barbour's decision, it's his and his alone," said current Governor Phil Bryant.

Bryant is making his stance known saying he would only pardon someone if there's evidence to prove a wrongful conviction. Bryant's own aunt was kidnapped, raped and murdered and says he's sensitive to victim's rights.

"It'll be very sparing and under very narrowly defined conditions," said Bryant.

Bryant is even urging lawmakers to better define the governor's power to pardon and give Mississippians a chance to vote on whether to change the state constitution.

"I think we've got to let the department of corrections, the courts work their will. They've been tried by a jury of their peers, they received that sentence," said Bryant.

Hood says by law, there's not much the state can do in legal recourse against Barbour, but when it comes to individuals filing suit, Hood says that's a different story, especially if those once criminals commit another crime.

"I hate it for the victims, they're getting whipped in all of this but we're going to take care of it and I think we're going to have most of those pardons that he attempted to do held null and void," said Hood.

If pardons are voided, those individuals will either be taken back to jail or remain there. The next step in the legal process will be next Monday in Hinds County Circuit Court.

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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