We first heard that then-Gov. Haley Barbour had pardoned another wife-killer Saturday night on WLBT after the Saints game. From there, the news snowballed, with another wife-killer added to the mix, culminating in a list of more than 200 pardons and grants of clemency that we were trying to sort through as the paper went to press.
The JFP will share more details about just who is on that list as we do the homework, but let's start here: Barbour's string of pardons of brutal killers of wives and girlfriends makes no sense and is horrifying an entire state as you read this. These pardons started back in 2008—news that Ronni Mott with help of intern Sophie McNeil investigated and broke that year, even as other media ignored the angle that he was pardoning mostly men who killed women. (And who happened to be white.)
When we dug out details on these murders around the state, we learned that they weren't cases of couples shooting at each other: These were some of the worst domestic murders we had heard of: pointblank shootings and surprise knife attacks included. Why would Barbour pardon such men? He wouldn't tell anyone in 2008, and he won't tell anyone now, including the families of the women who died. He adds insult to injury by issuing these pardons and then acting like it's beneath him to even addresses the families, not to mention a public hungry for him to tell us why.
Not only that, but domestic-abuse experts tell the JFP that Barbour sends exactly the wrong message to both abusers (you can get away with it) and to victims of domestic abuse who are trying to decide if it's safe to leave their attackers (note that most of these women had already left and look where it got them).
There is also the question raised by Sandy Middleton of the Center for Violence Prevention: How can you allow men like this to go free who haven't had any kind of intervention lessons? Domestic abusers tend to abuse for life unless they are taught to think and act differently. Washing windows in the Governor's Mansion is not batterers intervention.
In addition, Barbour pardoned several men who while not killing their victims, they tried to assault them sexually—including children. For instance, he pardoned Douglas Hindman of Jackson who was convicted of cyberstalking for using the Internet to try to lure a 13-year-old into having sex with him. We'd sure like to ask the governor what kind of therapy guarantees us that Hindman will not continue stalking children?
These pardons of woman-killers and sexual predators sends the message that Mississippi is still a very scary place for women. Thanks, Barbour.