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Reward offered for released Mississippi murderer

Police are offering a reward to help track down a convicted murderer who was pardoned by former Gov. Haley Barbour, R-Miss. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood joins NewsNation to discuss the situation.

Mississippi's attorney general is asking for the public’s help in tracking down a convicted killer who vanished weeks ago after being pardoned by former Governor Haley Barbour.

“I hate the fact that our former governor has unleashed this guy on the U.S.,” Attorney General Jim Hood told msnbc.com on Thursday. “I equate this to having a manhunt with one arm tied behind my back.”

Authorities began looking for Ozment after the former inmate did not appear on Monday at a court hearing related to the pardons. Hood said he has offered an unspecified cash reward for information regarding Ozment's whereabouts.

Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman, sparked controversy by granting some 200 pardons, commutations and suspensions, generating debate about how much power a governor should have to pardon criminals convicted of serious crimes.

Barbour has defended his clemency decisions and said he was confident they were all valid and blamed political opponents for much of the controversy.

Ozment, 40, had been serving a life sentence for the 1993 robbery and shooting death of a store clerk in northwest Mississippi. He was one of five prisoners who had worked at the governor's mansion who saw their life prison terms lifted after receiving full pardons by Barbour.

Hood is seeking to void most of the pardons granted by Barbour because not enough public notice was given in the communities where the crimes were committed. He received a court order to temporarily block the pardons.

A judge allowed the five freed men, including Ozment, to remain out of prison while the matter was pending but required them to report daily to authorities. Ozment was the only one who has not done so, Hood said.

Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie Green has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 3.

Hood asked anyone with information to call a confidential hotline at 1-800-281-4418.

Msnbc.com's Sevil Omer and Reuters contributed to this report.

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