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January 27, 2012

New NY Times report digs deeper into Mississippi pardon spree by Haley Barbour

This lengthy new piece in the New York Times, which is headlined "Many Pardon Applicants Stressed Connection to Mississippi Governor," provides some additional information about links between outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour and many offenders who received clemency via his pen. Here is an excerpt:

In the furor the followed Mr. Barbour’s clemency decisions — including more than 10 times as many full pardons as his four predecessors combined — beneficiaries like Mr. Vann have largely been overshadowed by others with higher profiles or more obvious connections. Among them were four murderers who had worked at the governor’s mansion; Brett Favre’s brother, who had killed a friend in a drunk driving incident; and Karen Irby, a Jackson socialite who killed two young doctors while driving drunk in 2009.

A close look at some of the clemency applications of nearly 200 of the other felons who were pardoned reveal that a significant share contained written appeals from members of prominent Mississippi families, major Republican donors or others from the higher social strata of Mississippi life.

The governor erased records or suspended the sentences of at least 10 felons who had been students at the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State when they were arrested, including at least three who killed people while driving drunk and several others charged with selling cocaine, ecstasy and other drugs.  Another pardon went to the grandson of a couple who once lived near Mr. Barbour’s family in his hometown, Yazoo City.

One beneficiary, Burton Waldon, had killed an 8-month-old boy in an alcohol-induced crash in 2001.  Mr. Waldon, a high school senior at the time, pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence.  He is a member of the prominent Hill Brothers Construction Company family, big-money political donors who give mostly to Republicans, including Mr. Barbour.  An uncle of Mr. Waldon, Kenneth W. Hill Sr., sought and received a pardon from President George W. Bush in 2006, erasing a federal income tax conviction.

Mr. Barbour declined to comment on the pardons, but a spokeswoman said that every application had been treated alike.  “If you were poor or rich, you were told to go through the parole board process,” said the spokeswoman, Laura Hipp.

Ms. Hipp said that in roughly 95 percent of the cases, the governor went along with the majority recommendation of the five-member parole board he had appointed to review the requests.  In some cases, the governor granted pardons that were unanimously opposed by the board.  Grants of clemency are solely at the governor’s discretion, and he is not obligated to give his reasoning.

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hmm

"A close look at some of the clemency applications of nearly 200 of the other felons who were pardoned reveal that a significant share contained written appeals from members of prominent Mississippi families, major Republican donors or others from the higher social strata of Mississippi life."

no shit shirlock! from everything i've read the last few years or so...that is the ONLY way to get on!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 27, 2012 6:02:50 PM

here's another goodie!

they have LOST one!

http://news.yahoo.com/pardoned-haley-barbour-free-man-run-173411634.html

Pardoned by Haley Barbour, a 'free man' is on the run

Convicted for killing a convenience store clerk in 1994, Joseph Ozment walked out of the Governor's Mansion after being pardoned by Gov. Haley Barbour on Jan. 8 and hasn't been seen since.

Declaring Joseph Ozment “rehabilitated,” Gov. Haley Barbour included the convicted killer among over 200 pardons he issued in his last days as governor of Mississippi.

Mr. Ozment was last seen leaving the Governor's Mansion, where he was a convict “trusty,” on Jan. 8 when he got into a car driven by his grandmother.

Ozment, whom Barbour described Friday as a “free man,” is now being sought by Mississippi authorities investigating the constitutionality of Barbour's mass pardons, which shocked many Mississippians, including victims and law enforcement. The list included over 40 murderers, rapists and others convicted of violent crimes.

OPINION: Congress must allow ex-prisoners to vote

The unusual manhunt is the latest twist in a peculiar tale of Southern patriarchy and redemption that has dogged Mr. Barbour since he left office earlier this month. The governor has defended his actions, saying the state pardon board had already freed most of the people, and that the clemency was mainly designed to give worthy ex-convicts the right to vote and hunt.

But national scrutiny has revealed that those pardoned were both disproportionately white and many had access to powerful interests in the state. In the aftermath, the state ended its mansion “trusty” program, a judge is deciding the constitutionality of the majority, and the legislature is weighing several bills to curtail the pardon process.

At the same time, the pardons also touched on deeper issues around the nature of redemption and mercy for a country that has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.

“While his timing and transparency are in question, he has at least reopened a needed national discussion on how justice must be tempered by mercy,” wrote the Monitor's editorial board last week.

But in Mississippi, that debate has taken backseat to concerns about Ozment's whereabouts. While four other former mansion “trusties” that were released have checked back in with the judge, and vowed to maintain daily contact, Ozment has disappeared.

Attorney General Jim Hood, who called Barbour's mass pardons “a slap to the face” of victims and the judicial system, said Ozment was last seen in northwest Mississippi, from where he hails.

A CNN crew trying to track him down also traveled to Memphis, Tenn., and Birmingham, Ala., where Ozment has family, but have so far come up short. On Jan. 17, the network carried an interview with Anthony McCray, one of the five former mansion “trusties” pardoned by Barbour. Mr. McCray called Ozment and the other trusties “nice guys,” and suggested that “God touched Haley Barbour's heart” as the reason why Barbour signed the pardons.

The search has raised unprecedented issues, including the extent to which the state can legally force Ozment, who's not wanted for any crime and now has a clean criminal record, to report to a judge.

The issue became only murkier on Friday when Attorney General Jim Hood hinted that there could be a financial reward for information on his whereabouts. Mr. Hood has said he may begin a criminal investigation if Ozment continues to refuse to surface.

The fact that Ozment hasn't abided by a judge's order to report for a hearing suggests to Hood that he may be a threat to public safety.

“He doesn't have a lot to lose if he thinks he's going back to prison for life," Hood said Friday. "That's what concerns me about the public safety."

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 29, 2012 2:00:22 AM

though i'm not sure how someone was a pardon can be on the run!

"The search has raised unprecedented issues, including the extent to which the state can legally force Ozment, who's not wanted for any crime and now has a clean criminal record, to report to a judge.

The issue became only murkier on Friday when Attorney General Jim Hood hinted that there could be a financial reward for information on his whereabouts. Mr. Hood has said he may begin a criminal investigation if Ozment continues to refuse to surface.

The fact that Ozment hasn't abided by a judge's order to report for a hearing suggests to Hood that he may be a threat to public safety."

and just WHY would he obide by a idiot judges ILLEGAL ORDER!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 29, 2012 2:02:17 AM

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