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Closing Corruption Loops Holes at the Mississippi Department of Corrections
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Marshall Fisher (2nd right) speaking at Gov. Prison Task Force
Desare Frazier

A draft of the Governor's Prison Task Force recommendations includes requiring companies that want to do business with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, identify everyone who has more than five percent ownership. Robert Gibbs is the co-chair.

"Because we don't want any buddy, buddy deals like there was before that you can bypass some of the bid process." said Gibbs.

Both Former Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps and Businessman Cecil McCrory pled guilty to corruption charges. McCrory gave Epps money for a lucrative no-bid contract to sell commissary items to inmates like snacks and hygiene products. To prevent future corruption, the task force is also requesting that half MDOC's purchase department obtain national certification in preparing contract bid requests and all staff attend annual training. The group wants the Personal Service Contract Review Board to analyze agreements starting at $75,000.

"Seventy-five thousand dollars or greater, they would have to be reviewed by the contract review board. Before it was over $100,000." said Gibbs.

Gibbs says there will likely be 17 recommendations. They asked MDOC Commissioner Marshall Fisher for his input. He agreed with the majority of them. Fisher says he'll have to review one recommendation that would require putting the reasons a company is awarded a bid online.

"You've got to understand, if we issue an award we've got 10 vendors say, and we issue an award to somebody there's always a potential for protest." said Fisher.

The task force meets again next Friday. The final report to the governor is due June 30.