Although former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has caused quite an uproar by pardoning more than 200 inmates — some of them convicted rapists and murderers — during his last days in office, he contends that granting clemency is a common practice and upholds the Christian principle of giving people a second chance.
“I have no doubt in my mind that these men have repented, have been redeemed, [and] have come back hard-working to prepare themselves to go out in the world,” Barbour told Bret Baier of Fox News on Friday.
Barbour weighed in that he has met many of those whom he pardoned, stemming from a policy in Mississippi that allows convicted criminals to work in the governor’s mansion he said that, on average, the pardon recipients have served 20 years in prison.
“Twenty years in the penitentiary is time enough to come to grips and get redemption and forgiveness [for your crimes],” Barbour said.
However, he noted that he also understands the pain that the families who were affected by the crimes are going through.
“I sympathize with the fact that it hurts them … and that they are not going to forget it,” the former governor said.
Additionally, Barbour said that this month's high number of clemencies reflects a lack of them four years ago due to addressing the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina, and that the volume of pardons in total falls in line with the amount of pardons Presidents Clinton and Reagan each approved during their terms in office as president.
“We have had executive clemency and pardoning by governors from the first constitution in Mississippi … from the first Constitution of the United States of America,” said Barbour.