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January 14, 2012

"Barbour ‘At Peace’ with Pardons, but Scandal Rages On"

The title of this post is the headline of this report via Time magazine about the latest state of the debate over Mississippi's former governor's out-the-door pardon spree.  Here are excerpts:

Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour on Friday defended more than 200 pardons he issued during his final days in office, 41 of which he gave to convicted murderers, sex offenders and child molesters.

“Mississippians are mostly Christians,” Barbour said in a lengthy statement, which he read at a Jackson press conference on Friday.  “Christianity teaches us forgiveness and second chances. I believe in second chances, and I try hard to be forgiving.  The historic power of gubernatorial clemency by the Governor to pardon felons is rooted in the Christian idea of giving second chances.  I’m not saying I’ll be perfect, that no one who received clemency will ever do anything wrong.  I’m not infallible, and no one else is.  But I’m very comfortable and totally at peace with these pardons, especially of the Mansion inmates.”

Barbour went on to say that he would be perfectly comfortable allowing any of the pardoned “trusties” -– prisoners who worked in the governor’s mansion, some of whom were murderers –- to play with his grandchildren unsupervised. “Historically the trusties sent to work at the Mansion have been murderers, convicted of crimes of passion, as experts say they are the least likely to commit another crime,” he said.  Barbour, a Republican, added that 90% of his pardons were recommended by the Mississippi Parole Board and that the clemencies would save the state millions in medical bills because many of the inmates he pardoned were suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes....

Less than an hour before Barbour released his statement, [Attorney General Jim] Hood, a Democrat, released the preliminary findings of his investigation into the pardons.  Of the 181 files Hood’s office has investigated, he says 140 had no public notice prior to Barbour’s pardon.  Of the 41 cases that did, 27 were insufficient the notices were published less than 30 days before the pardons.  Only seven cases fully met the rule of law, while seven more cases were still under review.  But even if Hood could void Barbour’s pardons -– a move that would set a new legal precedent in Mississippi – it’s not clear if it’s possible to reincarcerate the five inmates who’ve already been let out, four of them convicted murderers.... 

In the court of public opinion, Hood is clearly winning.  Barbour, who as of two days ago returned to life as a lobbyist and lawyer, seemed content to let his legacy stand. “I am very comfortable with the decisions I made during my term as Governor as to clemency,” he said. “All this is consistent with the powers given the governor by our Constitution, and I am fully confident the pardons and other clemency are all valid.” Hood, though, accused Barbour of trying to live above the law.  “He’s tried to rule the state like Boss Hogg and he didn’t think the law applied to him,” Hood told CNN, referring to the villain in the Dukes of Hazzard series.  “This isn’t a partisan issue. Either you followed the constitution or you didn’t.”

Ultimately, Barbour is betting that Mississippians, accustomed to 11th hour gubernatorial pardons, don’t really care about a bunch of ex-convicts and that the glare of the national klieg lights will go away when the next big story breaks.  Hood is betting that Mississippians will no longer stand for such outdated practices.  But given that the Mississippi legislature tried and failed to curb Barbour’s clemency powers when he pardoned four convicted killers in 2008, Hood and the Democrats may be facing an uphill battle to keep the outrage going long enough to force a change in the law.

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January 14, 2012 at 10:28 AM | Permalink


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"keep the outrage going"

That does seem to be the goal, doesn't it?

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jan 14, 2012 12:56:00 PM

of course that's why after all this time suddenly it now includes this

"sex offenders and child molesters."

Got to keep that unreasoning HATE going!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 14, 2012 1:48:59 PM

I viewed Barbour’s interview. He is clearly confident with his decisions, but his own citizens disagree with him, as do I. I reckon that he is diluting the consequences of crime.

1— He stated more than once in so many words, that ‘the experts say that perpetrators of crimes of passion, and murder is a crime of passion, are the most likely to be rehabilitated .’
Murders are by definition crimes of passion?

This is absurdly meaningless, and akin to claiming: ‘murder is an insane act, so anyone who does it is mentally ill’.

Were all four of Barbour’s pardoned murderers guilty of snap-decision, unplanned killings?
Depending on one’s temperament, cannot any crime be committed with passion or dispassionately?

2—Christianity and psychology also teach that consequences can deter or alternatively reinforce wicked behavior, e.g.
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil,” (Bible)
“The consequences of an act affect the probability of it's occurring again.” (Skinner)

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 14, 2012 7:51:43 PM


In a previous post you quoted Kant. Now you are "trying " to quote the Bible and Skinner.

Until you provide more specificity for your reasons, will you please Shut Up!

Posted by: albeed | Jan 14, 2012 11:15:33 PM

Barbour did the right thing. Let the demagogues stew in their own bile.

Posted by: John K | Jan 15, 2012 8:21:24 AM

Hood: "He tried to rule the state like Boss Hogg"

me: things like this is exactly why even the rest of the South makes fun of Mississippi.

I do like that Time magazine helpfully explained to younger readers like me that they were referring to the most awfully stereotypic show about the South ever and not Houston rapper Slim Thug.

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Jan 15, 2012 8:34:35 AM

That's right Grits. Ya see, Grits, and I know this is difficult for you to understand, normal people think that people who intentionally shoot and kill a woman with a baby in her arms (and who shoot another person in the head for good measure) deserve, in all cases, to spend more than 10 years in the state pen for such a crime. So yes, people are outraged, and rightfully so. But we know you love seeing criminals get off.

As for Gov. Barbour being at peace, well, it's easy for him---he doesn't have to worry about a vicious murderer finishing the job.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 16, 2012 10:10:43 AM

federalist, very few people are "outraged," is the truth of it. Read the story: "the Mississippi legislature tried and failed to curb Barbour’s clemency powers when he pardoned four convicted killers in 2008." The tuff-on-crime crowd in Mississippi already tried the "outrage" card on pardoning murderers and couldn't convince the Republican legislature they were right, so what will change now?

There's a reason the article suggests it may be an "uphill battle to keep the outrage going"; it's mostly artifice and self-interested demagoguery, not something most people (besides opportunistic Democrats and a few trolls whose lives seem to revolve around SL&P) think is a big problem.

If you don't like what happened, run for Goveror and you can use the pardon power, or not, any way you like. Till then, your opinion is as irrelevant as it is myopic.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jan 16, 2012 1:52:43 PM

Grits, I'm sure many will blast me for my input....These 4 were already in the governors mansion, so they already had great records and attitudes while serving their sentence early on... They basically were turned loose in there to serve...Most likely unsupervised.....I have empanthy for the victims relatives. BUT....They probably arenot any more risk than anyone else on the street to reoffend...
Therefore, the Gov. has my support.. As for the other 200 plus he freed...Most had already served their sentence..Yes some hadn't....He has given them a 2nd chance...So be it....He was the governor and thats within his powers...
I hope all of them, never reoffend so this maybe could be done again by another state....Obama should of had a mass Pardon for the crack changes and overriding the MM...
These guys sit in prisons so long, their crimes are a fleeting dream....
Free them and make room for those that need a turn in the correctional system. But don't warehouse people till the end of time....

Oh lordy, now come the rain of terror down on me...Sorry, but thats how I feel.

Posted by: Josh2 | Jan 16, 2012 3:29:40 PM

nice josh2 but you are aiming at the wrong one. grits isn't againt the pardons. That was FEDERALIST!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 17, 2012 1:12:32 AM

Rod: I know that...I simply was stating my views...Of coarse I agree that 10 yrs is short for a murder conviction...But I have no info on any cases....I guess I can say this, if Judege Jack Camp can get off scott free, why not these guys...While on the bench and knowing full well.....

Am I serious....In part....It all depends on the facts of the Barbour cases.
The ones that have served their sentence, yeah...Ones serving...Well lets put it like this...30-40 yrs or life for a federal drug case....Some guys got a break in Miss., good for them..

Rod, Bill must be on vaca don't you think, or he would have jumped all over these Barbour threads...

Posted by: Josh2 | Jan 17, 2012 10:06:33 AM

LOL 10 years for a murder conviction could be too little...DEPENDS on the conviction! we are finding far too many lately that should never have served a DAY let alone 10 years. Not enough info in these to decide one way or another!

as for the facts in the case. the only really relivent one is the fact that the state constution gives him the power to issue pardons NOTHING else matters!

Even if the whole state get's pissed off and decided to change and limit his power which i doubt will happen since it was just tried in 2008 and failed miserably.

it still WOULDN'T change a thing in THESE PARDONS!

as for bill. yea he's either on vacation or just decided to sit back and enjoy the show!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 17, 2012 10:23:55 AM


As a Christian, Barber's probably more of a New Testament guy... and as I imagine you may be aware, there was a bit of a change in tone between the two works with regard to the retribution - redemption continuum.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 17, 2012 11:40:33 AM

"Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has spared the life of convicted murderer Robert A. Gattis who was scheduled to die by lethal injection early Friday, The (Wilmington) News-Journal reports.

It is believed to be the first time that a Delaware governor has commuted a death sentence, the newspaper reports…Gattis' plea for clemency was based on new evidence about the physical and sexual abuse he suffered as a youth, MSNBC reports."

Gotta love those governors.. If you're a murderer.

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 17, 2012 2:44:53 PM

There's truth to what you say, basically, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Nevertheless, Jesus did not "come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it."

He indicated that the just punishment for murder is execution in Luke 19 & 20, & Matt 26.

In brief, Biblical law may be divided into Moral, Civil (Israel), and Ceremonial.

The Moral law has never changed, for example, stealing livestock is still violative
(immoral/sinful), but the penalty of restoration of one or more animals according to
the Civil law, is not necessarily binding on societies.

Ceremonial laws, such as the requirement to sacrifice a lamb for Passover, are no longer needed/heeded, because the Messiah fulfilled the offering, and the functions of the priesthood.

This exposition is not a terribly controversial position in theology, I believe. The older testament contains ceremonial requirements and civil penalties which are no longer valid, but what was wrong is still wrong, such as murder and torturing animals.

Regarding penalties, should we not have a truly sound reason to move away from what God prescribed for his chosen people, and Jesus reiterated in the flesh for gentiles as well? (II Thes 2:15, Prov 22:28.)

As G. K. Chesterton wrote:
"Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up."

Check comments on: "Pope seeks end to death penalty": http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e20162fd325dc7970d

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 17, 2012 3:57:38 PM

Adamakis, somewhere in the Book of Leviticus, the Bible actually calls for the execution by stoning of women who have been raped. May I presume since you are such a fan of Biblical justice that you support that?

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Jan 17, 2012 6:02:20 PM


No it doesn't.

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 17, 2012 8:20:43 PM

Adamakis, you're right, its actually in Deuteronomy 22. Sorry for getting the book wrong :P

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Jan 18, 2012 6:01:26 AM

No rape involved Erika! ? !:

In Deut 22:18-21, stoning was used for a woman who represented herself for marriage as a 'virgin' but who had actually committed fornication.

Regarding rape:

25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die.

26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for AS WHEN a man riseth against his neighbour, AND SLAYETH HIM, even so is this matter:

27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

[The rapist is is executed.]
[The raped woman is a victim, as innocent as a murder victim.]

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 18, 2012 10:10:45 AM

adamakis, really, do you think that nobody would notice that you left out versus 23 and 24?

Posted by: virginia | Jan 18, 2012 5:39:40 PM

verses 23 and 24.

Posted by: virginia | Jan 18, 2012 5:41:27 PM

Again, No rape involved Erika! ? !:
{You didn't specify whereat in Deut 22, so I didn't include the verses.}

In Deut 22:23-24, stoning was used for a betrothed--more permanent than today's "engaged"--woman and her sex partner for committing adultery.

23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;

24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

[The two adulterers are executed.]
[What are you trying to pull? really :P]

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 19, 2012 9:57:17 AM

Do you always lie about what the Bible says, or only when you've backed yourself into a corner and refuse to admit that you are wrong?

Those verses do refer to forced sex - otherwise, they would not contain the part about it making a difference if the woman in the city cries for help or not or the presumption that a woman raped in the countryside was unable to call for help. Apparently the ancient Israeis were not aware that a rapist might use a weapon or gag to keep a woman from screaming out and that this law essentially makes such a rape a perfect crime since no woman would ever report being raped in those circumstances since she would be executed. Also, the use of the word "violated" to describe the woman makes it pretty clear that the verse is referring to rape. To try to pretend otherwise is extremely dishonest.

In any case, even by your terms, am I to presume that you are down with the Iranians stoning women to death for failing to prove they are virgins after marriage or adultry and believe that those laws should take place here? How about forcing unengaged virgins who have been raped to marry their attackers? That's also in the same book.

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Jan 19, 2012 11:13:41 AM

Erika, your reading is not accurate. What I gave you was a straight rendition. If the sex act is forced, such as when one cries out, regardless of whether the lady is in the city or not, it is rape punishable by death. [In a city, if help were available, but one were quiet, then this might be evidence that it was consensual, but this is not explicitly stated.] If a betrothed/wedded gal has consensual sex with a guy who is not her betrothed husband, the two sex partners are executed (under the civil law of Israel).

Some “stubborn things” ala John Adams:

A> Historically, crying out was never demanded to prove rape, but it was/is evidence. I don’t know about ancient Israel in this regard, but I have researched colonial and historical English America, and women received justice for rape from the outset. ::websites below:: Here’s one bit:

“In 1786, fifteen-year-old Barbara Witmer suffered a horrific assault. A group of men kidnapped her from her Pennsylvania home at gunpoint, and one of these men repeatedly raped Barbara before her family and friends managed to rescue her…Eventually, six men were convicted in the attack. The man who had raped Barbara received a death sentence.” www.common-place.org

B> Historic justice for rape victims was due to the adherence of people to the straight teachings of the Bible, not in spite of their observance. In Virginia, “the notion of the law [w]as an arm of religious orthodoxy.” “In the Puritan north a religious message leaps out from almost every page of the early criminal codes.”--Crime and Punishment in American History (Lawrence M. Friedman)

C> I’ll admit it when I’m wrong, I have at least twice on this blog, e.g. 11/8/11 “Texas appeals court” ; but will You?

check out: http://www.mayflowerhistory.com/, www.history.org/,
http://www.earlyamericancrime.com/criminals/daniel-wilson, http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2536600318.html, http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cm/v23/n4/rape

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 19, 2012 6:15:45 PM

adamakis, from what translation because I've read that passage in both the Revised Standard Version and the New International Version and in both cases the passage is pretty clearly referring to rape. Many of the older translations (cough King James Version cough) did not use the original documents and while extremely poetic are also extremely inaccurate translations.

In any case, I would hope you would agree that whether the woman cries out during the attack is a pretty lousy test for whether it was rape or consensual. Its not like women have never been known to cry out during consensual sex or remain silent during a rape.

And really, I would hope that if a bunch of religious fundamentalists would drag me out to the edge of town and stone me to death for not being able to prove my virginity on my wedding night that you would not be supportive even if it is what the Bible calls for. Of course, I guess if we really followed Biblical law, I would have been stoned to death as a disobedient child and never reached the point where I was stoned to death for engaging in premartial sex - but my point remains.

Personally, I think they just got off on tossing rocks at women which is the sort of thing which happens when you try to repress your sexuality :)

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Jan 20, 2012 9:31:10 AM

1----Not so repressed.

Crime and Punishment in American History, Friedman writes:
(regarding sexual offenses) “A frank and robust sexuality leaps from the pages of the record books. Still . . . most people probably did not transgress.”

2----"whether the woman cries out" was never the arbiter as aforementioned, it was consensuality. You are too right that no one dare expect anything consistent in victim vocalization.

That's why I point you to American History, particularly the most Biblically based groups, e.g. the Pilgrims, the Moravians, to see how they viewed it. They used the Tyndale-based translations such as the Great Bible, the Geneva, the KJV or Luther's, and most Americans until recently used the KJV.

Maybe nutters today think that a woman who doesn't cry for help
should be stoned, but no bible believers. [Let me know if you meet one.]

Both the Hebrew words about force involved, and the universal reading by Jews and Christians historically--I checked last night with a judge/attorney who knows some Hebrew and represents her Synagogue [in Va. of all places]—agree that only verses 25-27 cover rape.

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 20, 2012 2:04:49 PM

3----Traditionally, a female would have more to fear from: Muslim extremists who debase(d) women; Pagans, e.g. Saxons, who raided Christian villages to seize and sacrifice virgins; Satanists; or any demented individual, than a "bunch of (Jewish or Christian) religious fundamentalists".

[Unless you're talking about a Hollywood portrayal.] Civil penalties do not apply since…just check my previous post.

1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
3 Honour widows…I Tim 5

4----Thanks for the discussion, but aren't we done? Don't want to beat a dead horse, do we?

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 20, 2012 2:06:40 PM

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