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Republican Gov. Haley Barbour: Despicably and Indefensibly Putting Innocent Lives at Risk

–Richard E. Vatz

Lest you think that all the worst abuses of governmental power are committed by liberal Democrats, take a look at the reprehensible action by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour as he left office. The Christian Science Monitor sums it up this way: “Outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour (R) gave reprieves to 208 inmates, including 14 convicted murderers, prompting Democratic legislators to reintroduce a bill that would curb pardon powers.”

According to The New York Times, Gov. Barbour has granted pardons; some for those who had already left prison, to keep said information from future employers; and four for those who had committed murder and “had worked at the Governor’s mansion.” The four murderers Barbour released are David Gatlin, Joseph Ozment, Charles Hooker and Anthony McCray. Gatlin’s release, according to CNN, “has intensified fears that the man will try ‘to finish what he started,’ one of his surviving victims said. ‘I feel like my safety is in jeopardy,’ Randy Walker, who was shot and wounded by Gatlin, said Wednesday. ‘I wonder if he’s going to finish what he’s started.’ Gatlin walked into a trailer in 1993 where his estranged wife, Tammy Ellis, lived and shot her in the head as she held their 6-week-old baby in her arms. She died of her wounds. Walker, the woman’s friend, survived a gunshot wound to the head.”

Sounds like a good candidate for assuming that rehabilitation has taken place.

The release of the murderers has been stayed by a circuit judge pursuant to Democratic State Attorney General Jim Hood’s claim in court that the pardons were illegally effected.

What is Barbour’s defense? According to The Washington Post, it was that “Most of the inmates had already completed their sentences.” That is certainly reassuring.

Barbour, who has been on the Great Mentioner’s (Russell Baker’s great concept of decades past) lists for possible presidential consideration, has had in the past strange behavior that no reasonable American could fathom: according to the Huffington Post, he credited his state’s White Citizen’s Council for being a bulwark against the KKK. I suppose analogously that Nazi Germany’s fostering the Judenräte should be given credit for enhancing Jewish employment in the late 1930s and 1940s.

When good conservatives rail against the blithe lack of concern for public safety and the “bleeding heart” judges and juries that couldn’t care less about the release into the public of evil, violent miscreants, they must realize that such criminal diffidence does not inhere in liberals only.

Barbour knows none of those released will ever pose a threat to him.

As Hood accurately concludes, the ex-governor has leveled “a slap in the face to everyone in law enforcement and Gov. Barbour should be ashamed.”

And conservatives should be embarrassed.

Prof. Vatz teaches Persuasion at Towson University and is author of The Only Authentic Book of Persuasion (Kendall Hunt, 2012)






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