Despite Outcry, Haley Barbour Defends His Pardoning of 200 Mississippi Convicts

The former governor has been denounced by the state’s attorney general who said the pardons may be unconstitutional.

Posted: 01/13/2012 07:42 PM EST

Haley Barbour, the recently-recently retired governor of Mississippi, has created a controversy with his decision to pardon nearly 200 of the state’s convicts. And the now former governor said he stands by his decision.

Barbour said Friday he’s “very comfortable” with his decision to grant pardons or other clemency to the convicts in his last days in office.

Explaining that Mississippi is a Christian state, Barbour said it was important for him to act with compassion toward the convicts.

“I believe in second chances and I try hard to be forgiving,” Barbour said. “I am very comfortable and totally at peace with these pardons.” He added that he is “fully confident the pardons and other clemency I have given are all valid.”

Barbour said only 10 convicted criminals have been or will be fully released from prison. Moreover, he said, the state has a tradition of freeing those who worked at the Governor’s Mansion, convicts known as trustees. Four killers freed Sunday were trusties. Barbour said state corrections officials pick those people, who are usually men convicted of crimes of passion.

However, the former governor's decision has been criticized within the state and elsewhere. Indeed, the state’s attorney general, Jim Hood, took a far different view of Barbour’s actions, calling the decision shameful and potentially.

Hood persuaded a state judge to temporarily block release of 21 inmates Barbour had ordered freed and to require that the convicted murderers check in with authorities.

Indeed, On Wednesday, a judge issued that injunction against the release of any more prisoners under Barbour’s pardons, suggesting that he’d violated the Mississippi Constitution’s rules for the release of inmates.

Hood said an investigation by his office indicated that several of the inmates cases, there had no constitutionally required notification to the public had been completed in areas where the respective crimes were committed.

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