Attorney General Jim Hood announced Wednesday his office has filed 11 civil RICO lawsuits against all corporate and individual conspirators connected to the prison bribery scandal involving former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps. … According to Hood’s lawsuits, multiple corporations, including some of the most prominent private prison contractors, paid millions of dollars in so-called “consulting fees” to individuals who then used those fees to pay bribes and kickbacks to Epps. Based on those bribes and kickbacks, Epps awarded, directed or extended approximately $800 million in public contracts to those private prison contractors. Hood alleges that the defendants violated Mississippi’s public ethics, racketeering and antitrust laws, along with several other claims. The Attorney General is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as forfeiture of all funds received by the individuals and corporations that were involved in these conspiracies. … Hood said through private attorneys his office will seek to recoup as much money as possible from what he called tainted contracts.
Prison review group examining no-bid contracts
Source: Emily Wagster Pettus, Hattiesburg American, December 12, 2014
A group reviewing Mississippi prison contracts could recommend changes requiring more accountability in how all state agencies purchase goods or hire people to provide services, members said after their first meeting Friday. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant appointed a bipartisan, five-member task force to examine the Mississippi Department of Corrections’ spending practices after former Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps and businessman Cecil McCrory were indicted last month on federal corruption charges. The two men have pleaded not guilty to charges they face. Authorities allege that McCrory gave Epps hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes in exchange for Epps steering contracts, some of them without a bidding process, to companies connected to McCrory….
Indictment of Ex-Official Raises Questions on Mississippi’s Private Prisons
Source: Richard Fausset, New York Times, November 16, 2014
In 1982, Christopher B. Epps, a young schoolteacher, took a second job as a guard at the facility known as Parchman Farm, the only prison operated at the time by the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Eventually he had to choose a path. “It worked out that I was making more as a correctional officer than as a teacher,” Mr. Epps would later recall in an interview for a corrections newsletter. By the time he spoke those words in 2009, Mr. Epps was being feted as Mississippi’s longest-serving corrections commissioner. The state inmate population had quadrupled, five private prisons had been built to help house them, and, according to a federal grand jury indictment, Mr. Epps had found a new, secretive way to bolster his income.