Mississippi's Pardons Temporarily Banned

Circuit Judge Tomie Green has issued a temporary injunction against pardons of 21 inmates, saying that the Department of Corrections must produce proper documentation of notices. Former Governor Haley Barbour ordered the release of over 200 inmates, including 14 convicted murderers.

Twenty-six inmates have already been released. Governor Barbour stated, “The pardons were intended to allow them to find gainful employment or acquire professional licenses as well as hunt and vote. My decision about clemency was based upon the recommendation of the Parole Board in more than 90 percent of the cases. The 26 people released from custody due to clemency is just slightly more than one-tenth of 1 percent of those incarcerated.”

Barbour took office in 2004, after working for the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997 and aiding in both the Reagan administration and campaign of George H.W. Bush. Since taking office, he has granted 222 pardons; successor Phil Byant took office on Tuesday.

Attorney General Jim Hood questioned the validity of the pardons, citing the constitution, which requires 30 days notice of any and all pardons. Hood has said, “He’s tried to rule the state like Boss Hogg and he didn’t think the law applied to him. This isn’t a partisan issue. Either you followed the constitution or you didn’t.”

Judge Green’s temporary ban will be lifted once the Department of Corrections produces proper notice of the pardons.