Why I released 26 prisoners

Despite all the publicity this month, few seem to notice the limited scope of my recent actions. I authorized the release of 26 prisoners from custody. As of last week, there were 21,342 inmates in the state corrections system and 60,517 people under Mississippi Department of Corrections supervision. I released 12 one-hundredths of 1 percent (0.0012) of our state’s inmates. About 95 percent of the clemencies I approved were recommended by our state parole board, and I accepted the parole board’s recommendations about 95 percent of the time.

When people realized that only 26 prisoners were being released — and that half of those 26 were given suspended sentences for medical reasons — the political attacks on my pardons shifted. The story became that many of the 13 non-medical releases were murderers. Of those 13, only 10 were pardoned; the other three were put under house arrest or a revocable, indefinite suspension.

All this public noise, then, boils down to 10 inmates — in particular, the five who worked at the governor’s mansion during my second term.