Families committed to changes in pardoning procedures
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
Family members victimized by a murderer 18-years-ago say Friday's defense of the killer's pardoned by former Governor Haley Barbour have offered them no solace. Now, the family is more committed to see the system changed.
Former Barbour spent part of Friday afternoon defending his decision to pardon more than 200 criminals as he left office. Barbour says he is comfortable with that decision.
"He can be comfortable. I can't ever be comfortable. I was on the other end of the violence. It's easy for you to say I understand or I know what you're going through. Until you've been on the other side of the violence, you don't know how I feel. You can't say how I feel, you can't tell me I've got to forgive or forget," said shooting victim Randy Walker.
"There are a lot of victims our here and a lot of families in a lot of pain and for him to say he is so comfortable, it's a slap in the face to the state of Mississippi, to every victim there is," said Tiffany Ellis Brewer, a sister of a victim.
Randy Walker was shot in the head by pardoned killer David Glenn Gatlin. Gatlin fatally shot his estranged wife, who befriended Walker after Gatlin moved to Georgia.
During his press briefing, Barbour spoke of his Christian beliefs of second chances and forgiveness.
"David left me with some scars that are not all that visible but every time I eat, I have a leak that runs down the side of my head. So every time I eat I see this reminder of David. So I forgave him a long time ago, but I can't forget," added Walker.
Family members say now their resolve is greater than ever to change the ages old practice of gubernatorial pardons.
"And that's actually what we are trying to do. We'd like to thank the media for helping us to get this noticed because had we not come to you, Warren, it would have been swept under the rug and nobody would have ever known," Brewer said.
There are three pieces of legislation pending before lawmakers at the state capitol to change the process of pardons. One dealing with a Constructional Provision and two dealing with the state statutes.
The Constitutional Provision change and also the change to the statute would set up a public hearing, which would involve district attorneys and the families in the process. The third piece of legislation would disallow any violent offenders from being trusties at the Governor's Mansion.
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