• Mississippi Pardoning.

    Courtesy of Associated Press

    Haley Barbour, the esteemed outgoing governor of the fair state of Mississippi decided that, on his way to a lucrative lobbying gig after serving two terms in office, he wouldn't leave the governor's chair without leaving behind a parting gift. That "gift" turned out to be not a good ol' yuletime "log" or even a brownish green streak, but a pardon of approximately 200 people, most of whom already served their sentence for a wide variety of crimes. It's common for governors to pardon those who they feel or at least were strongly persuaded to feel that their convictions and sentencing were either in error or in excess, but a mass pardon was unexpected, to say the least. That's what happened when Barbour failed to give the state-mandated 30 days notice before granting any pardons. It also didn't help that five of those people pardoned were still serving time, and that four of those five were in for murder. The prospect of having 21 inmates pardoned, with some being let go on medical release, didn't sit well with Attorney General Jim Hood, who requested that Circuit Judge Tomie Green issue an injunction to block their release. At least five released inmates figured they should get while the going was good and vanished off the face of the Magnolia State.

    Here is a list of all of the pardons made by Barbour during his time in office, including the 200+ pardons given on the 10th. Note how most of these pardons are full, unconditional pardons, where the slate is wiped completely clean. Some were released on medical and conditional suspension of sentence, while others were given stricter conditions such as house arrest. Karen Irby, convicted of killing two doctors in a DUI-related accident, received a "Conditional Clemency on Condition That She Serves 3 Years in MDOC Intensive Supervision Program (House Arrest) and Additional 2 Years Under Supervision of MDOC Community Corrections Division."

    Now take a look at the entries beside Gladys and Jamie Scott. You should know them - they were the ones who had to spend 17 years behind bars after effectively being framed for their involvement in an armed robbery that netted a paltry $11. Yes, these women had to spend more time in prison for something they weren't involved in than the men who actually committed the crime, thanks to a plea bargain. Note how their pardon is described as "indefinite suspension of sentence." That means their sentencing was effectively suspended for the foreseeable future, under the condition that they shell out $52 per month to the state of Florida for the administration of their paroles (since they moved to Pensacola) for the rest of their life and that Gladys give up a kidney to her sister as a condition of the release, something that raised eyebrows and broached questions from the realm of bioethics.

    Yep. The sentence was suspended. If they don't pay the fees, they go back to jail. And I imagine if they break any laws, no matter how relatively minor, they run the risk of going back to jail. Hell of a way to be pardoned.

    These women will spend the rest of their lives with this $52 Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads for the rest of their living days, while those convicted of greater crimes will likely walk free with a clean slate. Perhaps they should have convinced MDOC to let them pop sheets at the Governor's Mansion for a while.