Baria is pushing for legislation to change pardons

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - The recent pardon spree by former Governor Haley Barbour has caused an uproar and state legislators are listening.

Representative David Baria has been working to change the way pardons work for years.

"Nobody should forget that the victims are not being heard. They went through this ordeal. The judicial system worked. Then one person, the governor, sets them free," Baria said.

That is one of the main reasons Baria is introducing a bill on Monday. He hopes this will be the first step.

"It would provide for notice to the district attorney in the district which the crime occurred and allow the district attorney to set up a public hearing, so folks in the community, family members of the victim and law enforcement personnel involved in the arrest and prosecution, can be heard," Baria said.

This will be the fourth time he has tried to pass this bill, the past three years the chairman chose not to bring up the bill for discussion.

"His party persuasion is Republican, and my guess is he didn't bring it up because the governor said don't bring it up," Baria said.

But this time he feels very confident his bill will be heard. In fact, he has already had 28 law makers sign on as co-authors to the bill.

"Every person I have come in contact with has been supportive of this. I have not talked to one person, Republican, Democrat, white, black, man, woman who has supported what the governor has done. Folks have said, "Well, it is constitutional.' But no one thinks it's right," Baria said.

Although Baria does believe in second chances, he says it cannot be granted to everyone.

"Michael Graham, who stalked his wife and shot her while she was stopped at a stop light with a shot gun, apparently in the face and killed her, he can now do anything that you or I can do. He can drive a school bus; he could teach school; he can vote; he can go get a gun; he's been pardoned as if his crime never occurred, and that's just wrong for somebody who has committed a heinous crime," Baria said.

Baria has also drafted two other bills regarding pardons.

One would prevent anyone convicted of murder from being a trusty at the governor's mansion. That's because Baria says this has become a path to pardons, and there are plenty others in prison for non-violent crimes that can do the job.

The other would amend the constitution to prohibit the governor from giving a pardon in the last 90 days of their term.

Baria says if you feel strongly, the best way to get something done is to contact your local legislators.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.