Andy Taggart, Co-Chair of the Governor's Prison Task Force, believes an oversight board should monitor the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Former Commissioner Christopher Epps accepted money in exchange for giving Businessman Cecil McCrory, a lucrative contract. Both pleaded guilty to corruption charges, which led to creating the task force.
"But surely on the heels of the kind of scandal that we saw at the department of corrections last fall, if ever there was time to open the door and let all the light shine in, this is the time," said Taggart.
The oversight board is one of 13 recommendations the task force is submitting to the governor. Others include: all companies that do business with Mississippi must register with the Secretary of State's office, remove all exemptions for contracts bids totaling $75,000 or more and require businesses reveal if they hire consultants. Again Andy Taggart.
"Any vendor who comes to the state ought to be required to identify consultants they have on their payroll, to help them get a contract and right now there's no such legal requirement," said Taggart.
The task force was charged with reviewing contracts and purchasing procedures. But, they also heard concerns that ranged from overpriced snack items and inmate treatment, to the need to increase correction officers' salaries. State agency heads including MDOC's Commissioner Marshall Fisher answered their questions. Member Constance Slaughter-Harvey.
"And I know this task force was most impressed with Marshall Fisher. I know I was. It takes a tough person to stand up and say we're going to do what's right at any cost," said Slaughter-Harvey.
Governor Bryant says he look forward to reviewing their report. A copy of it is available on the governor's website: