Saying he wanted to set the record straight and citing his faith former Governor Haley Barbour spoke with the media Friday afternoon about his decision to give pardons or clemency to more than 200 people just before he left office. He made it clear he stands behind the pardons.
"Christianity teaches us forgiveness and second chances", said Barbour.
Barbour spoke with reporters at the Butler Snow law firm in Ridgeland where he now works. Barbour says he would have addressed the controversy sooner but was out of town the last three days.
"Let's get the facts straight," he said. "Of the 215 people that received clemency, 189 were not let out of jail -- they weren't in jail, they were already out of jail, and many had been out of jail for years. Twenty-six of the people were in jail, including 13 released for medical reasons."
Barbour says he anticipated some backlash, but not the politics.
"Nobody has ever as far as I can tell ever challenged a pardon on some very technical procedural grounds," said Barbour.
So confident in the rehabilitation of the trusties who worked at the Governor's Mansion, 4 of them convicted murderers, Barbour says he trusted them with the safety of his grandchildren.
"So much confidence that I've let my grandchildren play with these five men," he said. "I've let hem ride their tricycles out on the driveway with them watching out for them. I have no question in my mind that these 5 guys are not a threat to society."
He also said he understands and respects the concern of families of victims.
"The state is not an individual who wants vengeance," Barbour said. "The reason we have and have always had the power of pardon in our Constitution is we believe in forgiveness of sin, we believe in second chances. But I'm very comfortable and totally at peace with these pardons including those at the mansion."
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