Dewey Cheatem and Howe plus murder conspiracy: An MDOC Update

Over the past 18 months we’ve had two major Mississippi state agencies go up in flames folks with the second crash and burn at MDOC looking like it will be spectacular. Here is a Clarion Ledger three pack on the widening scandal that now strongly appears to include murder conspiracy (H/T RFP in comments) :

Inmate’s killer: Officer opened victim’s cell door ~ Jerry Mitchell

Epps probe: ‘Mississippi Hustle’ started with sex scandal ~ Emily Le Coz

Lawyers: Epps said prison companies ‘spread’ money ~ Jerry Mitchell

And of course with these major state agency scandals breaking loose in Mississippi (on Phil Bryant’s watch) it is only natural Ignatius chimed in on Louisiana politicos being altar boys.

I think the difference involves law enforcement because the prison-industrial complex corruption problems are also well cataloged in Louisiana, even if under investigated by the authorities:

LOUISIANA INCARCERATED: How we built the world’s prison capital ~ The Times Picayune

In Mississippi it appears just a few, albeit very well connected politicos were benefiting from the money train while in Louisiana every Sheriff in the state is financially incentivized in the system. Therein lies the main difference.

The problem in Mississippi goes back way farther as I remember an excellent Wall Street journal series on Mississippi paying private prisons for empty beds during the Ronnie Musgrove administration a decade or so back.  I could not find the old WSJ articles but I did find a few links of interest including one that mentions some of the same players including State Representative Bennett Malone of Carthage, who was mentioned in Jerry Mitchell’s “spread the money” article above. Here is the salient snippet from Mitchell’s piece:

In 2002 or so, then-Corrections Commissioner Robert L. Johnson negotiated with Walnut Grove Correctional Facility, a private prison, for a per-inmate cost.

House Corrections Committee Chairman Bennett Malone of Carthage “was right up in the middle of the negotiations, which was highly improper, to increase the rate for Walnut Grove,” he said.

Malone could not be reached for comment.

State can’t pay prison contracts ~ Emily Wagster AP 7/2/2002

Mississippi Pays $6 Million for Empty Prison Bunks ~ Matthew Clarke 7/15/2003

In July, 2002, the legislature met to consider a bill which would reduce the private prison funding from $54.7 million to $48.7 million. The bill, which passed 34-14 in the Senate, was defeated 64-51 in the House by the combined lobbying efforts of private prison operators and their friends in the House, according to Musgrove. This amounted to a de facto refusal to validate Musgrove’s renegotiated private prison contracts. House speaker Tim Ford, D-Baldwyn, openly worried that the vote could result in legal action against the state. Moore agreed.

Chair of the House Penitentiary Committee Bennett Malone, D-Carthage, said the House was sending a strong message of disapproval to Musgrove. “We think it sets a dangerous precedent in dealing with corporations when we make agreements and then the governor cancels them without legislative input,” said Malone.

So when the talk turns to a widening scandal I think it is players like Malone that will be scrutinized heavily but the rumor mill holds the scandal will be far wider in both numbers and geography than one politician from Carthage, Mississippi. Sure enough Jackson Jambalaya just rolled out the following:

Alcorn County Warden Suddenly resigns. Ended Contract to run Grenada jail on Oct. 27.

All indications are there is much more to come. Stay tuned.

6 thoughts on “Dewey Cheatem and Howe plus murder conspiracy: An MDOC Update”

  1. Doug, why are we even wasting more taxpayers’ money to investigate these crimes??? As already observed at the DMR, the crooks got away with little more than a slap on the wrist; none of the higher ups were indicted; evidence was wisked away by our State Auditor, and now Bryant and Palazzo have installed their “good old boys” in the same positions that were vacated by the crooks! So, all that is happening is new “puppets” are installed in these agencies and only a few of the crooks are used as “token prisoners”. Not all are charged with much of anything, and the ones doing the a lot of the stealing are “taken care of” by the good ole boys.
    So, why are we spending more Taxpayers’ money going on another wild goose chase??? I am sure that Mr. Pickering will look after his “dear friends” and see to it that the taxpayers get the shaft again. We are just throwing good money after bad. Until the next election, we are just stuck with what we have. But remember – vote for anyone but the incumbents. We have to make a change people. We can’t get much worse than we already are.

  2. Doug, point well made. EVERY official in Louisiana who has dealings with incarceration knows dearly the magic number, that is, the daily rate paid by the state for incarceration.

    Indeed, this payment is so significant that you will find that jailings significantly jump over the weekends in order to have at least three days incarceration, of no small matter in those areas where they do not have weekend magistration. Indeed, as civil practitioners well know, Mondays are hell on civil dockets because of the need for magistration by judges in those districts where you have only a handful of judges. (Just wondering out loud if the faux “good government groups” recognize that problem whenever they want to cut down on the number of judges in any district? Hmmm.)

    I’ve done “business” at some of the private correctional facilities. Sad to say that there’s a cottage industry of 1983 cases spawned by penny-wise, pound foolish doctrine, which of course the taxpayer ultimately picks up the cost when the indigents are dumped into society at the end of term.

  3. Holy Hustling Hulks of Horse Sh*t Batman,

    I’ll go one better then Ignatious and say that Mississippi’s jail/murder scandal makes Satanic Tammany Parish again seem like Saint Tammany Parish especially after the Miss. judge did his personal homecooking and assigned his re “dick”ulous bond of $25,000 on Epps who is changed with stealing over $1 MILLION in brides.

    And after the Feds seized Epp’s two Mercedes he walked out of Court after pleading not guilty with his beloved wife and acquired a new Mercedes that same day thereby shooting the psychological bird at da’ Feds.

    Time to place bets on how many months Epps gets and when he will end up at the Governor’s Mansion to do some shoe shining/turd polishing/ass kissing and other remedial duties.

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