NY Times' Bob Herbert on 2008 JFP Report on Barbour's Domestic Murderer Pardons | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

NY Times' Bob Herbert on 2008 JFP Report on Barbour's Domestic Murderer Pardons

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The Jackson Free Press reported in 2008 that Gov. Haley Barbour had given relief to a string of men who brutally killed wives and girlfriends. The national media is starting to notice.

In his column today, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert writes again about the need for Gov. Haley Barbour to free the Scott Sisters, who are serving life sentences for a 1993 armed robbery that allegedly netted them $11 each. He astutely draws a contrast between their case and the murders Barbour pardoned or helped in 2008, most of whom brutally murdered wives or girlfriends. In his column, Herbert gave credit to the Jackson Free Press and Slate magazine for cataloguing the details of those murders. The piece in Slate was by a column by Radley Balko published Dec. 17, 2009: Haley Barbour's Bizarre Pardon Record. In his column, Balko referred to the JFP's 2008 reporting (and linked to it) when listing the gruesome details of the domestic murders.

We're thrilled to see this very vital story finally getting serious national play. JFP managing editor Ronni Mott and then-editorial intern Sophie McNeil did extensive legwork to dig out the details of all these murders, which were not readily available, and they discovered that they were mostly cases of the most extreme domestic violence. At the JFP, we have criticized Barbour repeatedly for this string of pardons, which show such a disrespect and perhaps ignorance of how serious domestic violence is in our state. Sadly, the other state's media have not picked up on the story that most of the men Barbour let go had killed wives and girlfriends--and that he was not even consulting with victims' families or the parole board before making these unilateral and very disturbing decisions.

In fact, The Clarion-Ledger ran a column by a local women's organization earlier this year that blamed "the state" for these pardons, and credited Balko of Slate for reporting the story, rather than making admirable commentary about work done right here in the state. We said in an editorial earlier this year that that was even more insult to women in the state of Mississippi in multiple ways. Here is that editorial.

At the Jackson Free Press, we believe it is vital for media, and especially women, inside the state to get these stories out there about violence against women and why it's not taken seriously enough. Barbour's unilateral pardoning of these murderers is one major reason. It is also disturbing when the women doing this difficult, and often thankless, enterprise reporting to reveal these truth about violence against women are not given the credit for their reporting, and it goes to men outside the state.

People around the country need to know that there are strong women right here on the ground in Mississippi working to get these truths out. We can't ensure people will pay attention in a timely fashion, but we can do everything in our power to get the information out there.

And on a related note: Free the Scott Sisters. In our offices, we've been drawing the comparison for weeks between the Scott Sisters and all these men Barbour let go. We thank Bob Herbert of the Times for seeing the same disconnect and putting it out there.

Links to related pieces in the Jackson Free Press:

Also see: Barbour Helps Domestic Killers, Jackson Free Press, July 28, 2008
Barbour Gives Relief to 4 ‘Domestic' Killers, of 5 Total, Aug. 4, 2008
Editorial: Barbour, Clean Up the Mess, Aug. 6, 2008
Editorial: Women's Fund Gets It Wrong, April 28, 2010
Domestic Terrorism, Oct. 6, 2010 (Includes new details about Klasky's murderer)

Previous Comments

ID
160385
Comment

And Herbert's column, poetically, comes on the day when we are gathering tonight at Hal & Mal's to raise money to help domestic-abuse victims escape before they get killed. Come help us celebrate the life and legacy of Heather Spencer at the Heather's Tree benefit tonight. Read more about the Heather Spencer case here.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-10-16T08:24:05-06:00
ID
160386
Comment

An earlier Newsweek piece, by the way, that drew the obvious (un)parallel between Scott Sisters and Barbour's murderer pardons (and gave credit to JFP and Radley's Slate column about it). I'd missed this one. And for the record, as we've noted earlier, CBS was the only national media to pick up the domestic-string angle up back when we reported it in 2008: Raw Emotions Greet A Murderer's Release. So we should give credit to CBS, as its due, as well for both reporting it then and having the class to credit Ronni and Sophie's work in the JFP as the source. In fact, now that I look, Google tells me that the JFP got more credit outside the state than we had realized for breaking this. Of course, not inside the state where there has sadly been a virtual blackout on this story once the Klasky story died down. Our state media isn't known for seeking the larger contest.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-10-16T08:58:16-06:00
ID
160387
Comment

You know, reading the Mississippi-bashing comments under some of these stories makes me shake my head, though. It's not as if Haley Barbour is only a superstar in this state, as was more the case with someone like Frank Melton. This guy is a national hero for many, with national media outlets falling all over themselves to put him out there as a leading candidate for president. We broke this news in 2008; many of them have mentioned it here or there. Why do people suddenly think that he is Mississippians' fault. He was a national figure long before he won any office in this state, and spent more of his adult life out of the state than in it. Just sayin'.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-10-16T09:09:03-06:00
ID
160388
Comment

Congrats on the references in the NYT!!! Very cool and definetely important material. Unfortunately, I have to say it's not too hard to break news in this city or state as the leading newspaper, the C-L, is an absolute joke. This is off subject, but I did read a post on Jerry Mitchell's C-L blog regarding a "racially motivated" attack after the Fondren Art Walk on Oct. 7. What's the deal with that?

Author
Dave Coleman
Date
2010-10-16T11:18:17-06:00
ID
160389
Comment

Thanks, Dave. And I agree that there are many good stories left undone in Mississippi by the media, especially the corporate-owned who don't seem to believe in enterprise reporting any more. This story wasn't an easy one to do, though, as these murders happened a while back, and Ronni and Sophie had to really ferret out the circumstances of them all, using various means. But they went at it like two determined bulldogs! As for the "racially motivated attack," I hadn't heard that part. I know that some folks were beaten up afterward; I don't know if it had anything to do with race. Not saying it didn't, but can't confirm.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-10-16T12:31:50-06:00
ID
160390
Comment

BTW, just fixed link to Bob Herbert's column today in the above post.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-10-16T12:43:59-06:00

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