Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour invoked his Christian belief in forgiveness and his childhood experiences with a convict named Leon Turner to explain why he granted clemency to 215 convicts just before he left office, including 17 murderers, reports the Biloxi Sun Herald. The former governor answered questions about the pardons for the first time three days after he created a furor when he filed the pardons and sentence commutations with the Secretary of State's Office, then exited the political stage.
Barbour said knew victims' families would be rightfully upset, but he did not know the public would have the impression he let 215 inmates out of prison. Barbour stressed that only 26 convicts granted clemency were still in state custody, and 13 of those were very ill. Four of the five murderers worked as trusties in the governor's office. The clemency power, he said, “is rooted in the Christian idea of giving second chances. I'm not saying I'll be perfect. That nobody who received clemency will ever do anything wrong. I'm not infallible and nobody else is. But I am very comfortable and totally at peace with these pardons, including those at the mansion.”