Vague advice threatens dozens of Barbour’s pardons

In the legal showdown over the convicted killers pardoned by former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, dozens of people who served time years ago for lesser crimes could lose the chance to clear their records because the state Parole Board and local newspapers provided vague advice about how to properly notify the public.

Parole Board chairwoman Shannon Warnock told The Associated Press on Friday that she “informally” told people seeking pardons to publish notices “for a month” in newspapers in the areas where they were convicted, as required by the state Constitution. But Warnock said some weekly newspapers told applicants they could publish once a week for four weeks.

Attorney General Jim Hood contends once-a-week publication for four weeks doesn’t meet the Constitution’s requirement of publication for 30 days.

It’s not clear how many people failed to meet the requirement because of the vague advice, but the ones most likely affected were already out of prison, some for decades. Media coverage has focused on the pardons that Barbour gave to convicted killers and others serving long sentences, a fraction of his nearly 200 pardons.

AP
1/20/12