The Barbour Pardons: How We Got Here | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

The Barbour Pardons: How We Got Here

July 2008: Gov. Haley Barbour grants clemency to five convicted criminals assigned to work in the governor's mansion by the Mississippi Department of Corrections after reducing their status' to minimum security: Michael Graham, Clarence Jones, Paul Warnock, Bobby Hays Clark and Bobby Hays Clark. All but Kimble murdered intimate partners: wives or girlfriends or former wives or girlfriends.

December 2008: Barbour grants Leslie Bowlin, a rapist and kidnapper, a 90-day unsupervised furlough to visit family in Louisiana. Barbour rescinds the request after a media and legal fire storm of criticism, and Bowlin is back in MDOC custody after 10 days.

2009: During the 2009 legislative session, Democratic Rep. Brandon Jones of Pascagoula and then-Sen. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, introduce bills aimed at curtailing the governor's pardon powers. The bills would have required the state parole board to recommend pardon, another to require a public hearing when the governor wishes to pardon a felony, and a constitutional amendment to exclude murder and capital murder from pardoning powers. The bills all died in committee in their respective chambers.

June 2011: Barbour grants a pardon to Michael J. Jones, convicted of Sale of a Controlled Substance. No information has surfaced on Jones.

December 2012: Barbour grants an indefinite suspension of sentences for Jamie and Gladys Scott, sisters serving life sentences for a 1993 armed robbery. The governor's clemency is conditioned on Gladys Scott donating a kidney to her sister.

Jan. 6, 2012: Barbour follows Mississippi gubernatorial custom by pardoning another five minimum-security inmates who worked at the governor's mansion.

Jan. 9, 2012: State House Minority Leader Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, and Rep. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, announce legislation to add accountability to the governor's process of pardons.

Jan. 10, 2012: Barbour takes some of the shine off the inauguration of Gov. Phil Bryant when the news comes out that he pardoned or commuted the sentences of more than 200 people, not just mansion workers.

Jan. 12, 2012: Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie Green grants Attorney General Jim Hood a temporary restraining order on the pardons and calls for a hearing. Hood argues that many of those who received clemency failed to meet a constitutional requirement to publish a bulletin in their local newspaper 30 days before getting a pardon.

Jan. 13, 2012: Hood's office announces that four of the five mansion trustys have checked in, but one of the men, Joseph Ozment, cannot be located; Barbour releases a statement about the pardons, saying: "I am fully confident the pardons and other clemency are all valid."

Jan. 14-Jan.16, 2012: Mississippi Democrats and Republicans continue to react to the pardons. Rep. Bob Evans, D-Monticello, calls a bill aimed at reducing the state AG's powers a retaliatory stunt for Hood's attempt to invalidate Barbour's pardons.

Jan. 17, 2012: Police find Jackson businessman Stuart Irby dead, apparently by suicide. Irby's wife, Karen, received conditional clemency from Barbour for her role in the couple's 2009 drunk-driving incident that killed two people.

Jan. 19, 2012: Barbour pens an op-ed for The Washington Post where he states that most of those he pardoned were convicted of "crimes of passion" such as murder but are no longer dangerous to society. He also said that as a Christian, he believes in second chances.

Jan. 20, 2012: A survey conducted by Reuters finds the pardons heavily favored whites over blacks. Despite making up two-thirds of the state prison population, blacks received just one-third of the pardons.

Jan. 23, 2012: A hearing takes place at the Hinds County Courthouse. Inundated with last-minute motions, the AG's office asks for additional time to respond. Judge Tomie Green extends the hearing and allows the four trustys who appeared in court as ordered to remain free.

Jan. 29, 2012: Joseph Ozment, the lone remaining trusty who had not been served with civil papers, is found living under an assumed name in Laramie, Wyo. Hood said Ozment's fiancée, LaChina Tillman, helped him elude authorities but is not guilty of a crime.


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