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01-18-12, 01:33 PM #1
Controversy over "trusty" program that allowed convicted murderers to work in Mississippi governor's mansion and later receive pardons from himWhat is known is that in his final days in office, Barbour signed full and complete pardons for five violent offenders serving life sentences -- including four men who had committed murder.
These men were trusties -- selected by the Mississippi Department of Corrections because of their exemplary behavioral record while in prison to work at a variety of jobs, including as servants and handymen in the governor's mansion.That prison inmates like McCray -- who pleaded guilty in the death of his wife, Jennifer -- were afforded such a situation is the very thing that infuriates Ronald Bonds. His sister was McCray's wife, gunned down after the couple had argued at an after-hours club. Bonds helped raise his sister's two young children.
"How do you get a convicted murderer ... to go work at the governor's mansion?" he asked incredulously.The men are constantly surrounded by the governor's security staff at the governor's mansion -- considered a secure location. The men who are selected are put through a further background check by the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the agency assigned to protect the governor.
According to a law enforcement source, security is very tight.
"One strike and you're out. So they (inmates) are on their best behavior always. Whatever they tell the inmates to do has to be followed. They better be toeing the line," the source said. "They wouldn't choose anyone that might grab a kitchen knife and do something. They have to be people they feel they can watch."
But the program appears to give these men direct access to the governor -- a privilege that most prison inmates obviously do not enjoy.
McCray told CNN he saw Barbour practically every day.
"He'd ask me how my children were doing and stuff like that," McCray told CNN's Savidge.
"He'd ask how everybody was doing and I said everybody was doing just fine. And we'd move along. He'd go and do his work and I'd go and do my work.
"If you want to go talk to him, he'll talk to you," McCray added.
Savidge asked, "Really, you could just walk up to him and say, 'How are you?'"
"How you doing, Mr. Haley Barbour?" McCray responded. "That's it. He had his work to do, too."
McCray described the outgoing governor as "Nice ... nice ... really nice individual guy. Down to earth."
Asked if he discussed a pardon with Barbour, McCracy responded: "No. I never asked nothing about that."
"It was just assumed that eventually, by working in the mansion you'd get that pardon," said Savidge.
"Tradition," responded McCray. "That's what they call it. Before he got into office. It's been going on for years."
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