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The Pardons That Shocked Mississippi46:30
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Bob Oakes in for Tom Ashbrook

Mississippi Republican Governor Haley Barbour pardoned 208 criminals – murderers on down - on his last day in office. We’ll look at what moved Haley Barbour, and the uproar now.

Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, right, stands with relatives including Betty Ellis, mother of murdered Tammy Ellis Gatlin left, and gunshot survivor Randy Walker, both victims of recently pardoned killer David Gatlin, to call for an end to such end-of-tenure pardons by outgoing governors, Monday, Jan 9, 2012 at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss. (AP)
Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, right, stands with relatives including Betty Ellis, mother of murdered Tammy Ellis Gatlin left, and gunshot survivor Randy Walker, both victims of recently pardoned killer David Gatlin, to call for an end to such end-of-tenure pardons by outgoing governors, Monday, Jan 9, 2012 at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss. (AP)

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour made his name as a law-and-order governor in the one of the most conservative states in the nation. But on his last day in office, he shocked the South and pardoned more than 200 criminals.

Murders. Rapists. Drug Dealers. Most had already paid their debt to society. Others got out of jail free. Now, they can all vote. And buy guns. The state Attorney General says it’s unconstitutional. But the criminals are already gone.

This hour, On Point: The uproar over Haley Barbour’s last-minute pardons.
-Bob Oakes

Guests

Jessica Bakeman, reporter with the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.

Bobby Moak, a Miss. state representative, he is a Democrat and the House minority leader.

W. Martin Wiseman, director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Professor of Political Science at Mississippi State University.

Diane Roberts, a professor at Florida State University, she's the author of Dream State: Eight Generations of Swamp Lawyers, Conquistadors, Confederate Daughters, Banana Republicans, and other Florida Wildlife.

From The Reading List

Slate "The theory behind executive pardons and commutations is that the letter of the law sometimes conflicts with human decency. For instance, Barbour himself was hailed a year ago by NAACP President Benjamin Jealous as a “shining example of how governors should use their commutation powers” after he lifted the life sentences of two sisters who had already served 16 years for robbing someone of $11. "

Clarion Ledger "Four murderers and one robber that former Gov. Haley Barbour pardoned last week are likely to return to prison, but officials from the attorney general's office were still searching for them Thursday night."

USA Today You can find a full list of Gov. Barbour's pardons here.

This program aired on January 16, 2012.

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