Yet again, a race for a vitally important position in Mississippi has devolved into misleading rhetoric about a candidate for, supposedly, being soft on violent crime.
It is a common trick among Republican candidates in Mississippi. In past years, we exposed how Hinds County district attorney candidate Wilson Carroll and later Gov. Haley Barbour twisted the same meaningless crime rankings—ones that the FBI warned against using—to create scary mailers to white neighborhoods about local crime. The irony with Barbour, of course, is that at by the end of his second term, he had pardoned and released dozens of violent criminals in Mississippi, including child molesters and men who brutally murdered wives and girlfriends with shotguns and hatchets, proving that the rhetoric was just political theater.
In the race against Mississippi Supreme Court incumbent Jim Kitchens, supporters of Kenny Griffis are playing the same old partisan tricks in a race that isn't supposed to be partisan. They have cherry-picked an odd case of child rapists to use against Kitchens, long a smart legal mind on criminal issues, to try to prove that he is soft on violent crime (see pages 12-13). They are running scary TV ads about the case in which he joined another justice's opinion that the proper legal process was not followed in the convicted men's prosecution. Thus, we're told, Justice Kitchens will let violent criminals roam free at will, endangering women and children.
This is simply a lie, paid for by the same political interests and PACs that want public education woefully underfunded and ultimately privatized in the state and who want businesses to get away with anything they want and limit the kinds of regulation that protects consumers and the public. This is typical: Big-business interests and their PACs often fund these kinds of candidates and campaigns, using fear to mask their true goals, which usually has much more to do with money than public safety.
In Kitchens' case, the PAC cabal is clearly trying to use the old trick of attacking an opponent's strengths. His record and interviews show that he knows the criminal-justice system in Mississippi, having worked on both the prosecution and defense side. He understands that criminal law requires a delicate balance of ensuring that the accused get a fair prosecution and trial and that victims' rights be honored and the public kept as safe as possible.
This is not an easy balance, and will never be. But it cannot intelligently be packaged in simplistic political rhetoric fit for the political trash bin.
Kitchens is an intelligent, compassionate but tough judge, and the conservative Mississippi Supreme Court, and the citizens of the state, need him to balance the partisan interests already on that court, and to protect the interests of each citizen, even if those who don't own or lobby on behalf of major corporations. Or start firms that do.
Vote Jim Kitchens for the Mississippi Supreme Court on Nov. 8. He's the smart choice.