A Mississippi judge temporarily blocked the controversial release of 21 inmates pardoned by outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour.
On Tuesday, in one of his last acts in office, Barbour ordered the release of more than 200 prisoners in all, including some convicted killers.
And, reports “CBS This Morning” special correspondent Jeff Glor, the move has led to outrage.
It was Mississippi’s attorney general, Democrat Jim Hood, who asked Circuit Judge Tomie Green to step in, arguing Barbour’s eleventh-hour pardons violated the state constitution.
“Hopefully,” an angry Hood told reporters, “it will be a lesson to any future governors that you just don’t do this kind of thing. You’ve gotta read the law before you go out there and do something like that.”
Relatives and friends of Tammy Gatlin, who was shot and killed by her husband David as she held her six-week old son, are among the stunned and angry constituents who opposed the pardons. David Gatlin, who is now free after serving 18 years of a life sentence, also shot Tammy’s friend, Danny Walker, who survived.
“I think the governor himself will have to look me and the family in the eye and say, ‘I’m going to let this guy go.’ But there wasn’t any of that. I think that’s the coward’s way out,” Walker said.
Also pardoned: Ernest Scott Favre, the troubled brother of former NFL quarterback Brett Favre, convicted of manslaughter in 1997, when he drove drunk into the path of an oncoming train and killed his best friend.
State records show more than two dozen of the inmates released were convicted of murder, manslaughter, or homicide. Barbour knew at least four of them personally — they worked in the governor’s mansion.
Barbour gave no explanation when he issued the pardons. But the move was surprising for the governor and former head of the Republican National Committee, who has typically taken a tough stance on crime. In his eight years in office, he pardoned only five people and allowed nine executions to go forward.
Last night, Barbour released a statement defending his actions, saying, “approximately 90 percent of these individuals were no longer in custody, and a majority of them had been out for years.”
This morning, some victims are living in fear.
“We’ve got our law enforcement officers out watching the ones that we think are a danger that have been released,” said Hood.