Barbour to DV Victims: ‘You Can't Trust Us' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Barbour to DV Victims: ‘You Can't Trust Us'


Haley Barbour bows his head in prayer during today's inauguration of Gov. Phil Bryant. Barbour reportedly dodged questions from the media, saying today was about Bryant.

Also see: JFP Domestic Abuse Archive and 2008 investigation of Barbour's domestic pardons.

Gov. Haley Barbour's pardons constitute a danger to the Mississippians the now former governor supposedly served.

During his final weekend in office, Barbour pardoned four killers and a three-strike burglar. Among the five were two men, David Glenn Gatlin and Anthony McCray, who murdered their wives. Their pardons bring Barbour's tally for releasing intimate-partner killers of women to six.

Domestic-violence offenders aren't picky about who they abuse.

"Statistically, these type offenders will offend again," said Sandy Middleton, executive director of the Center for Violence Prevention in Pearl, which conducts a court-ordered batterers' intervention program in central Mississippi. "A domestic-violence offender is going to have repeat victims, numerous victims, throughout his lifetime unless his core belief system is changed."

The social malfunction for domestic-violence perpetrators is not simply anger aimed at a specific person, and it takes specific techniques to change abusive behavior. Those techniques are not being used at Parchman, said Chris Epps, commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections in a phone interview yesterday.

"So, unless Marsha (Barbour) is holding classes over at the mansion, we have to assume that they hadn't had any specific intervention for not only being a domestic-violence offenders, but being domestic-violence murderers," Middleton said.

"(Domestic violence is) rooted in power and control, and it's rooted in the core belief that they have the right to inflict power and control over another person--another person being an intimate partner. It stands to reason that unless (abusers) have some type of intervention or effective counseling, as soon as they get on the outside and choose another intimate partner that the same cycle will begin again."

Barbour is also sending the exact wrong message to the thousands of Mississippians who are on the receiving end of violence from their intimate partners. Organizations such as the CVP, the attorney general's office and the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence have worked hard in the state to train law enforcement and others within the justice system on how to appropriately respond to domestic violence and keep victims safe.

"The criminal-justice system works here," Middleton said. "Law enforcement did their jobs."

But Barbour's pardons "flies in the face" of the people who work hard to get these offenders away from their victims, she added, in addition to the victims themselves.

"It just puts us back to square one," when it comes to the people at the receiving end of the violence, Middleton said. The message Barbour sends to them is that "You can't trust us, because we're really not going to protect you."

Support our reporting -- Follow the MFP.