Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Sid Salter: Who Has More Experience Fixing Prisons Than Controversial Cain?

There has been more than a little media tut-tutting over the decision by Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves to hire controversial former Louisiana corrections official Burl Cain, 77, to lead the Mississippi Department of Corrections.


Journalists widely panned Reeves’ choice of Cain to pull Mississippi’s prison system out of its present mire of rising prison deaths, U.S. Justice Department civil rights probes, federal lawsuits challenging prison conditions, persistent gang violence, major contraband discoveries, and corrections officer shortages exacerbated by low pay.

The reason? Cain retired as warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola after a Baton Rouge newspaper raised questions about his private real estate transactions with friends and kin of what the paper alleged were favored inmates. The Times-Picayune’ s Bryn Stole, in reporting Cain’s hire in Mississippi this week, wrote: “Throughout his career in Louisiana, Cain was also dogged by allegations of impropriety, nepotism and by controversy surrounding a number of side business deals involving inmate labor that appeared to skirt state ethics rules.”

Cain’s response was defiant: "Those allegations were unfounded…there were no crimes committed." Factually, there’s no record of Cain being indicted or convicted of a crime.

Reeves said he thoroughly vetted Cain’s record: “Angola was once known as the bloodiest prison in America. Then a man named Burl Cain entered the picture. He brought faith, security, safety, dignity and pride to the prison. They went from beatings to Bible study.”

Cain’s national reputation for restoring order and safety at Angola, once one of the nation’s most feared and violent prisons, is undeniable.

Mississippi 18,000-acre prison farm at Parchman is a vestige of the antebellum South, as outlined in a fascinating 2002 article by the late Emory School of Law Professor Melvin Gutterman in the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law Review: “In the South, at the end of the Civil War slavery was abolished as an American institution. The Union triumph resulted in the emancipation of four million blacks. The conclusion of the conflict had not, however, wiped out the need for cheap labor to work the plantations.

“Emancipation gave a new meaning to crime in the South, as a minor transgression that was tolerated by former slave owners became a serious crime. The southern states treasuries were empty, and they could no longer afford to maintain their prison systems. The devastation in the South and the agitation of early Reconstruction forced southern officials to search for methods to reduce expenses associated with a burgeoning prison system.

“A southern businessman, Edmund Richardson, offered a solution that would fill both gaps. Richardson needed cheap laborers to work his land in the Yazoo Delta, so he contracted with the state of Mississippi to feed, clothe, guard and treat well the criminals assigned to him provided he could keep all the profits. The state, for its part, agreed to pay him for the prisoners' maintenance. Richardson's proposal started the era of convict leasing in Mississippi, and other southern states enthusiastically embraced the contract arrangement.”

History proves Parchman was founded as a corrupt enterprise, and to Mississippi’s enduring misery, it has struggled to break free from that sad legacy for more than a century. Witness former MDOC Commissioner Chris Epps’s 2015 downfall as he pleaded guilty to taking almost $2 million in bribes and kickbacks, money laundering and tax fraud.

Cain had success at the nation’s most notorious prison farm at Angola. Perhaps he’ll have it again at the nation’s second most fearer prison farm, the one in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Frankly, the bar’s never been set particularly high since Richardson got his first convict lease payment during Reconstruction.

Cain’s reputation, both good and bad, preceded him in his move to Mississippi. Now, here’s hoping he can manage Mississippi’s prison farm as well as he managed Louisiana’s.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at sidsalter@sidsalter.com.


Kingfish note: Posted below is a 2017 press release issued by the Lousiana Legislative Auditor


An investigative audit of operations at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola found several potential violations of state law, the state Constitution, and Department of Public Safety and Corrections’ policies, the Legislative Auditor said in a report released today.

Auditors found that three employees performed work on former Warden Burl Cain’s personal residence in Baton Rouge without taking leave, which is a violation of department policies and state law. In addition, Angola’s Prison Enterprises facility was used to refurbish the iron gates from the driveway to Cain’s personal residence, but no records of a work order or of any payment were found.

An examination of the prison’s records did show, however, that $27,520 in public money was spent between January 2009 and August 2015 on appliances and furnishings for the Warden’s house at the prison. Although Department of Corrections’ policy allows certain Angola employees to live on the prison grounds, there is no provision that the state pay for appliances or furnishings for the houses.

Auditors also found that an estimated $17,474 in lodging and meals were provided free of charge to some of Cain’s immediate and extended family members who stayed overnight at Angola. Because no apparent public purpose for the stays was found, the lodging and meals could be considered a donation of public funds and therefore a violation of the state Constitution and state law. Among those who stayed over at the prison were former Warden Cain’s sons, Nathan Cain and Marshall Cain; his daughter, Amanda Cain Smith; his brother, Alton Cain; and his cousin, Mary Cain.

In addition, auditors said that nearly $6.3 million in money generated by the Angola Prison Rodeo between January 2014 and December 2015 was not deposited with the State Treasury or included in the Department of Corrections’ budget, which is required by the state Constitution and state law. Auditors also found that the Angola Prison Rodeo Committee improperly donated $67,620 to the Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum Foundation to buy a bus. The bus was used jointly by the Museum Foundation and the prison for tours. However, because there was no agreement between the two entities to show that the prison received a benefit or value equivalent to the donated funds, the transaction could be considered a donation of public funds, which would violate provisions in the state Constitution.

Auditors also looked at the Angola Employee Recreation Committee and found that it was using the prison’s facilities without paying any fees or having a written contract in place, which may be a violation of the state Constitution. Auditors found as well that the former secretary/treasurer of the Committee made cash withdrawals and used the organization’s debit card to make personal purchases and additional cash withdrawals totaling $101,044 between April 2009 and May 2016.

In addition, between April 2010 and October 2015, $27,918 in rodeo concession sales revenue was never deposited into the Committee’s credit union account.

The audit showed, too, that the prison’s assistant fire chief used the Angola Hook and Ladder Club debit card to make $4,217 in purchases between May 2013 and May 2016, of which $2,188 were for his personal use.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

He should fit right in.

Anonymous said...

Who doesn't have a few skelton in their closet?
Convicts are not like football fans!

Anonymous said...

Cain will Misappropriate more than the 94m at DHS in 6 months. Not to mention you think you got inmate lawsuits, just wait.

Anonymous said...

Actually the prison farm model like Angola and Parchman is in theory the best way to run an efficient prison. It keeps the inmates busy and it pays for itself. But the history of such places show they were rife with racism, brutality, and gross exploitation of inmate labor. Every time it seems that Louisiana or Mississippi might be on the verge of making good use of these facilities, some crook or bigot starts the pattern all over again. It's too bad. Now it's this guy's turn. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Its a good hire, remember, Tater had a degree from Millsaps...

Anonymous said...

@11:04
Where would be a better place? LSU? Grand Canyon State University? Mayor Lumumba and President Obama's alma mater, Harvard?
Sorry but dont get the fixation on Millsaps. Is it a bad school?

Anonymous said...

11:25- Millsaps has been going downhill for years, its a matter of time before it folds. The college spits out too many liberal minds, ones that are filled with ideas that are detrimental to society in general.

Anonymous said...

We can't seem to find a head of MDOC or a presidential nominee under 70, and 2 of the 3 are damn near 80. I'd the leadership well that dry?

Anonymous said...

@12:02
You should go for it. Seriously. It requires stamina, charisma, and you have to be a good bullshit artist. It would also help ifbthe media will cover up your incompetence
Of course you better not have any skeletons in your closet.

Anonymous said...

That's why Tulane folded in Madison. Sort like down in Hattiesburg where you have to keep your windows rolled up or they will try to throw a diploma through the window....

Anonymous said...

Millsaps grads are liberals. They pretend to be liberals to piss off their parents and get the silliness out of their system before they go on to be productive conservatives.

Anonymous said...

The state penitentiary should be self-sufficient; every inmate should have a job and they should grow/raise their own food, make their own clothes, build and maintain their own facilities and provide services for the state (license plates, printing, construction and maintenance of roads, landscaping, equipment for schools and state parks, etc.). There is no reason that the MDOC should get an appropriation for anything other than raw materials, farm equipment and tools, medical care and salaries for COs. Hard work leads to self-worth, and inmates that work all day are too tired to fight and cause trouble.

Anonymous said...

"That's why Tulane folded in Madison. Sort like down in Hattiesburg where you have to keep your windows rolled up or they will try to throw a diploma through the window...."
May 27, 2020 at 1:27 PM

WHAT are you talking about? To WHAT are you responding? Are you referring to an earlier post, or answering 'The Voices' (the ones in your head)?

Considering that you're using a fifty-year-old cliche, used long ago, in reference to various Footballcentric Jokeschool universities. And considering that you still think of "windows" (car windows, apparently) as being "rolled-up", I'm guessing you don't get out much, anymore.

Also, it seems that you don't know the difference between Tulane-proper (the one in Uptown New Orleans, which has high admissions standards), and the chain of JUNIOR-COLLEGE-LEVEL satellites (with negligible admissions standards) associated with the University.

Madison's 'Tulane' "campus" got off to a bad start. Some yatty New Orleans woman was sent up from a "campus" on Mississippi's Gulf Coast, to establish the thing. She considered herself to be going into the hinterlands, to minister unto the unwashed, illiterate heathens of Central Mississippi.

Lost upon her yatty self, was the fact that she'd transferred into the richest town, and the richest county, in the state - a place with a Human Development Index score on a par with those in the best parts of Connecticut and Northern California - a place whose top two percent have economic parity with the top two percent in places like Southampton, Palm Beach, Mercer Island, and Montecito. But this was lost on Her Yattiness, and she ran around insulting basically everybody.

She prevented the City's award-winning design teams from doing a single thing (preferring "Dat Edgewatta Look", since whe'd been transferred-in from Tulane's storefront operation in the glamorous Edgewater DEAD MALL, somewhere on Mississippi's Gulf Coast - aka 'Redneck Riviera'). While "Dat Edgewatta Look" impresses Chalmatians, it does NOT impress people from Eastover, Woodland Hills, and Bridgewater (Tulanes's 'Madison Campus's target demographic). Nobody could see why they should PAY EXTRA, to take classes on such an underwhelming campus.

After Yat'trina insulted some (predictably) prominent members of First Baptist, across the street, she (predictably) "got RUN-OFF", and replaced. But by then, "the campus" was under a very dark cloud - in a county where dark clouds tend not to move.

As for the ACTUAL, real Tulane, I can tell you that it is NOT known for "Liberalism".

Anonymous said...

Sid said:

" Mississippi 18,000-acre prison farm at Parchman is a vestige of the antebellum South".

Perhaps in the early days.

But a few of Robert St. John's various recipes are ' Ole South'as well.
And Mister St. John is a much better columnist than Mister Sid.

BTW, Chris Epps remains in prison.
Burl Cain never spent 15 minutes in a Parish jail.






Anonymous said...

My friends in the legal community of LA said that they could not believe that MS would hire this guy. These knowledgeable people claim he is one of LA’s biggest non convicted criminals in their state. They were sorry for MS, but they were glad to get rid of him.

Anonymous said...

"There is no reason that the MDOC should get an appropriation for anything other than raw materials, farm equipment and tools, medical care and salaries for COs."

Let me help you find a reason. The one-armed federal judge in Greenville named William C. Keady, now dearly departed. He outlawed everything you recommend while adding duck-feather mattresses and strawberry-based evening deserts.

Anonymous said...

@4:58 Protest a little too much?

The “real” Tulane is not a liberal institution. Yeah. Those safe spaces are for the tough kids.

Guess you don’t leave the fancy addresses nobody outside of Madison or shelter in place Jacksonians has ever heard of - Where the top percenters in the great state of Sippi live - too often. Can’t have a 1% or 2% anywhere else in the state now can we?

Maybe you should consider getting out of the state every once in a while to see how the rest of the country lives. Nobody gives two @#=* about some fancy neighborhood around Jackson. It’s still located in Mississippi isn’t it?

Tulane operates two different “colleges” in New Orleans and has for years. The satellite campuses offered the same sort of classes the “other” Tulane college offers. The reason the “satellite” campuses failed has more to do with basic economics and the overall changes in secondary education. As in, moving away from brick and mortar to online. Not really anything to do with upsetting one particular preacher who holds court in a very impressive zip code (in Mississippi).

Funny how much you look down your nose at those yats and coast rats (rednecks on the riviera). They (coastal yatty areas where the “less than” live) sure pour much more money into the state coffers than any of those fancy addresses you speak of do.

The unrepentant snobbery of the mighty whitey in Jackson/Madison/Ridgeland never cease to amaze. Please don’t go changing. Keep your sin free money in central Sippi and continue to hold your nose as you accept the benefits of the sinful gaming dollars.

Anonymous said...

8:18, you sound really JUMPY. Has anyone evaluated your meds, recently? Maybe they should dial-it-back, just a bit, assuming the psychotropics haven't already caused permanent changes in your wiring. I'm assuming you're a resident of some sort of facility, considering that you seem not to understand a lot of basics - the sort of things one would pick-up, out in the world. Are you writing from a prison in Louisiana or Mississippi? Is that what drew you to this particular blog entry?

It would seem that you listen to a lot of talk radio. It isn't clear which Talk Radio Jackass you're attempting to sound like, but I don't think he'd be flattered by the imitation. Even by Talk Radio Jackass standards, you're pretty lame.

Anonymous said...

One very simple fact remains.

The guy is in charge now.
There's not too much his detractors can do about it.

(Kind of like President Trump) .



Anonymous said...

I once worked briefly for the MS Dept of Corrections - in a rather high executive level. Rather quickly I became aware that the Commisioner, a guy by the name of Chris Epps, was doing some potentially crooked things and didnt seem to care who knew it. This INCLUDED the “Clarion Liar” who clearly felt he was a slightly less sophisticated version of barack hussein.

I foolishly reached out to then-hotshot-“journalist” Sid Salter, and because of my very sensitive position, requested anonymity in reporting a large pattern of nefarious behaviors.

Sid’s response was to tell me to go to hell. Good job. I guess he read about Epps’s multiple convictions for felonies for bribery in the CL a good many years later.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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