Saturday, January 28, 2012

If your white and well-connected ‘Uncle Haley’ will pardon you

Good Day Humboldt County!

Todays path take us back to a time when southern aristocrats didn’t have to answer to the law if they were white and well connected. 

The historical inequities in Mississippi justice have been chronicled by journalists and fictionalized by novelists from Faulkner to Grisham. Even today, prison terms for the same crime can vary significantly from one part of the state to another.

Enter Haley Barbour,  Mississippi’s governor who has pardoned 10 times more criminals that the past four governors combined. In a state with the highest poverty rate in the nation, where nearly 70 percent of convicts are black, official redemption appears to have been attained disproportionately by white people and the well connected.

Here’s some examples of Uncle Haley’s benevolence towards the connected in the state:

1)In some of the appeals for clemency, personal connections to Mr. Barbour were unabashedly made. “Maggi and I wanted to begin by thanking you and Marsha for a lovely and special lunch at the Mansion last Tuesday,” began a letter to the governor by a family friend of Doug Hindman, one pardon applicant. “It was very interesting to see the historical quilt upstairs.”

Mr. Hindman, the son of a cardiologist from Jackson, was arrested in 2006 after exchanging hundreds of sexually explicit messages with an undercover officer posing as an under-age girl.”

2) Four murderers who worked at the Governor’s Mansion and Brett Favre’s brother, who killed a friend in a drunken-driving accident were all recently pardoned by Haley. GOP's Barbour under fire after pardoning 4 killers

3) A close look at some of the clemency applications of the nearly 200 others who were pardoned reveals that a significant share contained appeals from members of prominent Mississippi families, major Republican donors or others from the higher social strata of Mississippi life.

4)The governor erased records or suspended the sentences of at least 10 felons who had been students at the University of Mississippi or Mississippi State when they were arrested, including at least three who killed people while driving drunk and several others charged with selling cocaine, ecstasy and other drugs. Another pardon went to the grandson of a couple who once lived near Mr. Barbour’s family in his hometown, Yazoo City.”

5)One beneficiary, Burton Waldon, killed an 8-month-old boy in an alcohol-induced crash in 2001. Mr. Waldon, a high school senior at the time, pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence. He is a member of the prominent Hill Brothers Construction Company family, big-money political donors who give mostly to Republicans, including Mr. Barbour. An uncle of Mr. Waldon, Kenneth W. Hill Sr., sought and received a pardon from President George W. Bush in 2006, erasing a federal income tax conviction.”

I could go on, but you get the idea. Uncle Haley is setting new lows when it comes to corruption in Mississippi. The Old South thrives in Mississippi because of people like Haley who are still in power.

Quotations from: 'Uncle Haley' pardoned many with ties to power, which ran in the New York Times today.

Time to walk on down the road…


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