My, my, what a mess. Instead of quietly slipping out the governor’s mansion to return to his former life as a lobbyist, Haley Barbour dropped a bombshell on his way out the door.
Barbour granted 203 pardons to felons as he left office.
More than 90 percent of them restored normal citizenship rights, including voting and being able to own a gun, to Mississippians who already had served their time in custody.
At the center of the controversy are the others who were granted clemency. The list includes murderers, sexual offenders and those convicted of other crimes. Some were inmates who worked at the governor’s mansion during Barbour’s time in office.
Barbour also commuted the sentence of a Jackson socialite, Karen Irby, who was sentenced to 18 years for killing two young doctors in 2009 while she was driving drunk. Irby had begun serving her sentence only last May.
Barbour changed the sentence to two years house arrest and another two being monitored by the state Department of Corrections.
Attorney General Jim Hood has succeeded in getting a court order to temporarily block some of the pardons until it can be determined whether the governor followed proper procedures.
We think governors should have pardon power to correct obvious miscarriages of justice, but what Barbour did is a slap at the justice system.
It reminds us once again that the rules often are different depending on who you know, which politician you cosy up to, or how much money you have. It’s a sorry situation.