Yesterday, his last day in office, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour granted pardons to 193 criminals — an unusually high number for the state, and one that is likely to inflame controversy about his pardon practices, the New York Times reports. Barbour’s pardons attracted an outcry when he pardoned five people last week who had been convicted of murder and at worked at the governor’s mansion while in custody, performing odd jobs.
Recent Mississippi governors issued many fewer pardons. Barbour’s actions are “really inexplicable,” said Brandon Jones, a former Democratic state representative who had tried to pass legislation that would have added some oversight to the pardoning process. “I think that in some ways he has broken the mold.” Having inmates perform tasks like waiting on tables at the governor's mansion is not unique to Mississippi. In Georgia, while inmates work at the mansion, the governor does not have the power to pardon; in Louisiana, the governor can do so only if four out of five members of the state's pardon board agree.