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This month, Mississippi’s governor, Haley Barbour, pardoned 198 people as he left office.
Mr. Barbour issued ten times as many pardons as his four predecessors combined. Among them were four murderers who worked at the Governor’s Mansion and Brett Favre’s brother, who killed a friend in a drunken-driving accident.
A close look at some of the clemency applications of the pardoned reveals that a significant share contained 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 ten felons who had been students at the University of Mississippi or Mississippi State when they were arrested, including at least three who killed people while driving drunk and several others charged with selling cocaine and ecstasy. Another pardon went to the grandson of a couple who once lived near Mr. Barbour’s family in his hometown, Yazoo City.
One beneficiary, who killed an eight-month-old boy in an alcohol-induced crash in 2001, is a member of the prominent Hill Brothers Construction Company family, big-money political donors who give mostly to Republicans, including Mr. Barbour. The man’s uncle 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. His spokesperson said that in 95% of the cases, the governor went along with the recommendation of the parole board he had appointed. In some cases, the governor granted pardons that the board unanimously opposed.
In a state with the highest poverty rate in the nation, where nearly 70% of convicts are black, redemption appears to have been attained disproportionately by white people and the well connected.
Via The New York Times.