(CNN) - Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who flirted with a presidential bid last year, defended his decision on Friday to pardon 200 criminals, four of whom were charged with murder.
"We believe people who ask for forgiveness of sin and redeem themselves should get a second chance, and 20 years in the penitentiary is time enough to come to grips with getting your redemption and forgiveness," the outgoing Republican governor said on Fox News.
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The decision has created a legal firestorm in the state since the pardons were announced Monday.
Furious with the governor's executive orders, the state's attorney general, Jim Hood, said Friday that "a large number of staff" was examining each case, and his office aims to make the pardons "null and void."
"Our preliminary investigation indicates that the majority of these purported pardons did not have sufficient publication and therefore we will introduce our evidence (in court on January 23) and ask the court to hold these purported pardons null and void," the attorney general said.