What's All the Fuss About in Mississippi?

Lost in the furor over pardoned convicts: the truth about who received mercy and who didn't.

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"The sisters are doing well. They are holding their own," reports Hilary Shelton, an NAACP spokesman. According to him, they are living on their own in Pensacola, Fla., among family members and are dealing with health issues.

Barbour has said that most of those pardoned or given some other form of clemency had been out and about in their communities for years. His action just clears their names so that they can vote, get jobs or get hunting licenses. He no doubt prefers that people think of pardoned individuals like Thomas Ailes -- a disabled Vietnam vet convicted on marijuana charges but released from prison in 1977 -- instead of the convicted killers who were pardoned.

As all this gets sorted out, Payton of the LDF sees the future for many of the former inmates as difficult as they re-enter society needing to reunite with families, find jobs and vote. "This is a small version of a bigger problem: what to do about massive incarceration." And that is something Payton has a deep interest in.

E.R. Shipp, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, is a frequent contributor to The Root.

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