/Burl Cain, former Louisiana prison warden, to lead MDOC

Burl Cain, former Louisiana prison warden, to lead MDOC

Reeves stated that he chose Cain, a 77-year old man who has a national reputation for incorporating Christian theology into Louisiana’s notorious prison after a nationwide search due to his track record in reducing violence and crime at Angola. After the 2013 scandal that saw Chris Epps, then-Commissioner of Mississippi Prisons, get bribes for granting contracts to private vendors, the appointment is a result. This appointment comes after the 2020 violence in Mississippi prisons, which resulted in the deaths dozens of state prisoners since the start of the calendar year. Reeves indicated that recent misspends had been made in the department’s leadership ranks in January. Cain stated Wednesday that he would do a great job helping the Department of Corrections. He also promised to fulfill the four essential components of a good prison: good food, good play, good praying, and good medicine. Cain was controversial in Louisiana. The audit by the Louisiana legislature revealed that Cain had 10 corrections workers working on his private residence. Some of these employees were apparently being paid by Louisiana. According to the audit, Cain was also granted other benefits while he was warden of Angola. These included flat-screen televisions and appliances (totaling $27,000), as well as lodging in Angola for his family members. Cain emphasized that he wasn’t charged with any crime on Wednesday. Cain stated Wednesday that he believes it is important to emphasize the fact that the allegations are unfounded. “There was no crime. We must avoid any hint of impropriety. That will be our policy. “I have done that all my career.” Cain stated that he didn’t know which state employees were working overtime and that he had spent significant amounts of his own money on Angola before appliances were bought with public funds. Reeves stated that he was aware of the concerns raised during the audit and had chosen Cain to head the corrections department. The allegations were known to the search committee. Reeves stated Wednesday that he was aware of the allegations. “We did extensive research and it seems that the allegations were dropped once the politics were removed.” Reeves said: “I have complete confidence in Burl’s ability to transform the culture at the Department of Corrections. I am confident that he will make Mississippians proud. On Wednesday afternoon, several elected officials criticized the decision. Jarvis Dortch (D-Jackson), a state representative, stated that he had heard of Cain through the Angola rodeo, which was widely covered, and began to research him more after the governor announced his decision. Dortch spoke out on Wednesday afternoon about details regarding Cain’s audit by the Louisiana Legislature. Dortch stated, “I don’t understand how someone reads that and allows him to get past the first interview.” It doesn’t make sense. It’s hard to explain that one.” Riots and violence occurred in Mississippi’s Parchman State Prison during December and January, just before Reeves was elected as the new president following the November general elections. Since the start of the calendar year, at least 30 inmates died in state prisons. Most of those deaths were at Parchman. Advocate groups and inmates have also voiced their disapproval at the poor and unsafe conditions in the system. These groups have also criticised Reeves’ leadership since January. Reeves created a committee to search the country for the top prisoner position amid the violence of mid-January. The chairman of the search committee, George Flaggs from Vicksburg, stated that the committee had received numerous applications but did not provide a number. Cain is well-known in corrections circles. Many have praised Cain for changing the culture of Angola prison, which was for many decades one of the most violent in the country. The Marshall Project, a non-profit national that studies prison issues, conducted an investigation into Cain’s incorporation of Christianity into prison life. It cited several instances in which Cain was accused of ordering beatings and placing inmates in isolation for long periods of times. He also was accused of punishing non-Christian religious group members. Reeves stated, “We need an experienced leader that Mississippians trust. I believe Burl is that person.” This is a difficult decision that I take seriously. Our system’s safety and dignity are at risk. We need Burl’s decades-long, impressive career in corrections, including leading prison facilities and introducing progressive measures to improve conditions. While we still have a long way to go, Burl will guide MDOC in the right directions.” Reeves announced that Sean Tindall, a former state senator was appointed as the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. The state Senate must confirm Tindell and Cain. Confirmation hearings are usually held at the end of a legislative session. This year, it will be in June.