WDAM Viewpoint- Out the door pardons - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

WDAM Viewpoint- Out the door pardons

In most states, Mississippi included, it has been a long standing tradition to have trustees from the state penitentiary work at the governor's mansion.  Year's ago, when it was discovered that one of them had stolen something or other from the mansion, then governor, Ross Barnett was said to have quipped, "well if you can't trust a trustee…who can you trust?" 

Another long standing tradition is chief executive pardons—both gubernatorial and presidential—as they leave office.  These are pardons that are made as the governor or president is on their way out the door and no longer has to be worried about political liability. 

Governor Haley Barbour has stirred up a lot of controversy by pardoning David Gatlin—a trustee at the governor's mansion—who was serving time for the murder of his estranged wife and the shooting of her friend in 1993.  This after the parole board turned down Gatlin's bid for parole less than two weeks ago.  This has the victim's family up in arms and a lot of people saying that this is another of example of Mississippi's "catch and release" justice system coming on the heels of a number of other violent offenders being let out before serving their sentences. 

Frankly, we question these midnight, one foot out the door paroles for both presidents and governors.  In my opinion, if they are not willing to parole someone when it may cost them politically…they should not be allowed to do so as they are leaving office.  We should place a 6-month moratorium on executive pardons prior to an office holder's term being up.  I'm Jim Cameron…write and let us know what you think.

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