Victims pushing for pardon reform - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Victims pushing for pardon reform

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Former Governor Haley Barbour's pardons created controversy and fueled the fire for victims and their families. They rallied and made promises. But now they've gotten the ball rolling towards real change.

Randy Walker has served as an unofficial spokesperson for pardon victims. He was shot by a man who was later pardoned by Governor Haley Barbour. Since that list of nearly 200 pardons was released, Walker's been calling for change.

"I stood on the steps of the capitol over there and said that the pardon thing was over with and that we couldn't change that but we could make changes. And one of the promises I made was to bring change," Randy Walker said.

After months of meetings with attorneys, walker and others have settled on a ballot initiative to make changes to Mississippi's pardon system.

"We want to stop it from being a one-sided process," said Walker.

First on the list, they don't want the Governor to have sole pardon power. So the initiative will propose a new formula, with a panel.

"It'll be a power divided up between the Governor, Secretary of State and the Attorney General," detailed Walker.

Next on the list, is the Supreme Court's jurisdiction.

"A lot of these inmates didn't meet the 30 day requirement. So that was procedural. This new change will say if those procedures aren't met, then we do give the supreme court authority to do that," Walker described.

The third and final amendment would allow for victims and their families to be more than just onlookers in the process.

"All we could say was that this is not right. It's already been done. There's nothing to change," said Walker.

Under the initiative, victims would have the chance to testify or write letters to the panel that makes the pardon decisions. Walker knows there's still challenges ahead before change is seen but he's not ready to give up.

"Some people they just feel defeated. They don't want to deal with it. I'm not there yet. I'll be defeated when the people of Mississippi don't vote to have the constitutional amendment. And even then, it's not a one time thing," explained Walker.

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