Yesterday, the Mississippi Senate passed a bill that would make the governor's right to pardon convicted felons more accountable to their victims and to the communities where they committed their crimes. But rather than sending HB 2 to Gov. Haley Barbour for his signature, the bill is on hold pending a motion to reconsider.
The laws giving the governor the right to pardon felons came under fire last year when Barbour released murderer Michael David Graham, who, after years of stalking and harassing his ex-wife, shot Adrienne Klasky Graham in 1989 at point-blank range with a 12-guage shotgun, virtually shooting her head off.
The Mississippi Parole Board previously denied Graham's parole, but Barbour, who is not currently required to consult with them prior to granting relief, suspended Graham's sentence and released him regardless of those expert opinions.
HB 2 has the potential to provide some accountability for the governor's pardoning power, mandating that the governor contact the district attorney or sheriff of the county where the felon committed his crime to schedule a public hearing prior to a release.
In addition, HB 2 mandates a unanimous parole board vote when paroling a convicted capital murderer or someone convicted of a sex crime. This Senate amendment to the original House bill is in response to public outrage regarding the parole of Douglas Hodgkin last month. Hodgkin brutally raped and murdered pregnant Ole Miss student Jean Elizabeth Gillies, and Mississippi convicted him of capital murder in 1987.
A Jackson Free Press investigation revealed that of five killers Barbour granted relief to in 2008, four of them murdered women: Graham, Bobby Hays Clark, Paul Joseph Warnock and Clarence Jones all killed ex-wives or girlfriends.
In December, Barbour granted a furlough to convicted rapist Leslie Bowlin, although he retracted that decision under pressure from the attorneys general of Mississippi and Louisiana.
Seems Barbour is a misogynist as well. Or is he trying to send his wife a message?