(Reuters) - Mississippi's new Republican governor has backed a limit on the power of a governor to pardon criminals after his predecessor, one-time presidential hopeful Haley Barbour, sparked controversy by granting clemency to more than 200 convicts in his final days in office.
Governor Phil Bryant, who served as Barbour's lieutenant governor and who took office on Tuesday, said he would support a state constitutional amendment reducing a governor's clemency powers.
"Governor Phil Bryant has asked Senator Michael Watson, Chairman for the Senate Constitution Committee to review the current law as it regards to pardons, how it allows the governor to make these type of decisions, and whether we need to address the wording better in a constitutional amendment," spokesman Mick Bullock said on Thursday.
"The governor believes a constitutional amendment is the right way to address such an important issue."
Barbour has been under fire since early this week when it became public that he had ordered the release of four convicted murderers and an armed robber who had worked at the governor's mansion. Then on Tuesday, his last day in office, he granted clemency or suspended sentences to more than 200 other convicts.
(Reporting By Robbie Ward and Mary Slosson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)