As the controversy over pardons was making its way through courtrooms folks at the Mississippi College School of Law were gauging the political temperature of voters from across the state on the pardon process.
"This is not at all about looking backwards. We're not at all being critical or supportive of what's been done before, but this is perspective," said Dean, Jim Rosenblatt.
The school contracted with a private firm for a survey of 500 registered voters stretching from the Gulf Coast to the Tennessee line. In it voters gave their thoughts on just who should have pardon authority, the role of the parole board and what involvement family members of victims should have, if any.
"We just wanted to catch a snapshot of where people are right now," said Rosenblatt.
That snapshot looks something like this. For the most part those polled feel there should be a collaborative effort between the governor and the parole board when it comes to who has the power to pardon. While 67 percent felt pardons were sometimes appropriate, an overwhelming majority, 94 percent felt victim notification was crucial.
"It was the one that people seemed to be most consistent and most joined in their opinion of," said Rosenblatt.
By shining a light on public opinion, Rosenblatt, as well as professor Matt Steffey say change can happen, either through the legislature or public initiative.
"If you regularize the process, involve more people, involve public input and the natural affect of that were to move it away from the end of the term, I think it's safe to say we would expect fewer pardons," said Steffey.
While those involved recognize the survey is not perfect, since it was exclusive to people who have land line phones which typically leads to an older generation, they do say it still proves to be very representative of the state as a whole.
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