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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pardon Me!

A Meebo patron asked us a two-part question this morning:
  1. How long have MS governors been allowed to pardon people right before they leave office?
  2. What are the pardoning records of past MS governors?
We turned to the Mississippi Constitution, which is contained in our trusty set of the Mississippi Code, and found this:

In all criminal and penal cases, excepting those of treason and impeachment, the Governor shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons, to remit fines, and in cases of forfeiture, to stay the collection until the end of the next session of the Legislature, and by and with the consent of the senate to remit forfeitures. In cases of treason he shall have power to grant reprieves, and by and with consent of the senate, but may respite the sentence until the end of the next session of the Legislature; but no pardon shall be granted before conviction; and in cases of felony, after conviction no pardon shall be granted until the applicant therefor shall have published for thirty days, in some newspaper in the county where the crime was committed, and in case there be no newspaper published in said county, then in an adjoining county, his petition for pardon, setting forth therein the reasons why such pardon should be granted.
Mississippi Constitution, 1972 Article V § 124

In one form or another, the power to pardon prisoners has been granted the governor of Mississippi since the Constitution of 1832. (If you would like to view the text of previous Mississippi constitutions, Mississippi History Now is your source!) That's 180 years if you happen to be counting.

The New York Times published a most fortuitous article this very day. In it, they provided the following numbers:
  • Gov. Haley Barbour (2004-2012) 203 full pardons (17 to convicted murderers)
  • Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (2000-2004) 1 full pardon
  • Gov. Kirk Fordice (1992-2000) 13 full pardons (2 to convicted murderers)
  • Gov. Ray Mabus (1988-1992) 4 full pardons
We hope this answers your question, Meebo patron! For further updates, stay tuned to local news, such as the Jackson Free Press. (They have been covering this story extensively.)

Mississippi Code, 1972 Annotated
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/us/gov-haley-barbour-of-mississippi-is-criticized-on-wave-of-pardons.html?_r=2
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nuernberg_jail.jpg

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