Tuesday, September 4, 2007

What is going on at the Mississippi Department of Corrections?

Is Chris Epps, Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, in violation of Section 47-5-47 of the Mississippi Code that prohibits nepotism in the MDOC? (Note: Reply by Mr. Epps in the comments section at end of post.)


Mr. Epps' biography listed on the MDOC website states: "Commissioner Epps is married to Catherlean Sanders Epps and they have two sons, Chris and Tracey."
http://www.mdoc.state.ms.us/christopher_b.htm

A copy of a phone list that is the Central Office Directory of the MDOC from February, 2007 lists under the Administrative Remedies Program in the Dickson Building, Suite 207, a Tracey Sanders at ext. 5673. Sources at MDOC have informed me that Mr. Sanders is indeed the same Tracey Sanders that is listed in the biography of Mr. Epps on the MDOC website as his son. A call to the extension has a Tracey Sanders leaving a greeting on the voicemail. Apparently he holds the rank of Sergeant as well according to a search of the MDOC's website (He is included in this picture on the website: http://www.mdoc.state.ms.us/News%20Letters/2005NewsLetters/May%202005.pdf).

One would think that the Mississippi Code is clear on this issue:
"It shall be unlawful for any person related by affinity or consanguinity within the third degree computed according to the rules of the civil law to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor or commissioner to accept any employment in the state correctional system, neither shall the commissioner or other officer or employee of the state correctional system be directly or indirectly interested in any contract, purchase or sale for or in behalf of or on account of the state correctional system." Mississippi Code of 1972, Section 47-5-47.
http://www.mscode.com/free/statutes/47/005/0047.htm

What exactly is going on at the Mississippi Department of Corrections? Did Mr. Epps hire his son contrary to the statute? Has there not been enough turmoil and violence in the MDOC system? Now one must ask if nepotism has occurred as well.

Note: Before you Democrats celebrate too much, keep in mind that Mr. Epps was appointed by Governor Musgrove.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a former employee this is TRUE!!! Tracey Sanders was hired under Epps administration as Commissioner

Anonymous said...

Tracy Sanders got where he is only because of his relationship to Commissioner Epps. It is WRONG. Commissioner Epps has been given free reign of the MDOC by the governor and he has ruined it. He has run off so many good employees that the MDOC is in dire straits. If the general public knew the real deal they wouldn't be able to sleep at night. I know because I work there and have for the last 20 years. It's a nightmare.

Kingfish said...

Well, why don't you tell us what the real "deal" is.

Commissioner Chris Epps said...

Tracey Sanders was hired with the Mississippi Department of Corrections on Aug. 18, 1994. I was appointed Commissioner Aug. 30, 2002. Therefore; any fool can see this is not against state law since he was hired and working for MDOC before I became Commissioner.

Oh, by the way he is not a Sergeant; he is a Branch Director II.
MDOC Commissioner Chris Epps

Kingfish said...

Commissioner:

Thank you for your response. There are several reasons for such a post. One of the main reasons is that such accusations float around out there. I did not state the accusation as fact but instead, framed it as a question, which is exactly what the post was and posted all relevant information available.

When one DOES read through the bio and the website and is familiar with state law, one does have to wonder exactly what is going on.

My attitude is the best way to deal with bad information is by releasing good information, which you have done. I can assure you this has been raised by more than a couple of people.

One of the nice things about the internet is that it gives someone such as yourself the opportunity to respond in an appropriate manner. In the past, the newspaper or tv station would run a similar story. If they didn't reach you for comment (what? A journalist not seek balance? Imagine.), then you would have to write a response where it would be buried in the letters to the editor section. On the internet, your response and clarification is placed right next to the post so it is almost impossible for a reader to miss it. I am also adding a note at the end of the post making the reader aware of your comment.

This also serves another purpose in that if people email me "scoops", send me documents, or take other actions that upon a first glance or initial investigation pass muster, it shows the other side and puts a stop to said internet campaigns or tactics to some degree. I think a spotlight is the best tool for dealing with such matters.

However, I must clarify a something. I said he was a sergeant because your website said he was. If you click on the link of the photo above, you will see that the caption lists him as a sergeant. On that issue, your gripe is with the person in charge of your website, not me.

The second is that the law does allow for someone to be remain employed if a relative is appointed as an agency head. However, that is stated in another completely different section of the code for public employees and agencies. The code section I cited for MDOC personnel hiring was silent on allowing someone to remain on staff if the relative was appointed to be the Commissioner. While some would say if section 47 is silent on this issue it must be controlling because it specifically covers MDOC personnel, obviously the other statute is controlling on this issue and there is no distinguishing between MDOC and regular state personnel.

Once again, thanks for the response.

oneofthree said...

"However, I must clarify a something. I said he was a sergeant because your website said he was. If you click on the link of the photo above, you will see that the caption lists him as a sergeant. On that issue, your gripe is with the person in charge of your website, not me."

In May 2005, Mr. Sanders was a Sgt. That was in May, 2005!
He is not a Sgt anymore!

Kingfish said...

Well, the website needs to be updated then.

However, one thing needs to be clarified. When promoted, did he buy everyone a round of drinks? If not, then the promotion is not valid and he is still a sergeant.

oneofthree said...

It's a newsletter. Can't really update a May 2005 issue!
Funny!

Kingfish said...

SO does that mean he didn't buy drinks and thus is still a sergeant?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Well of course he is branch director 11, he has been promoted more than once since you became Commissioner. Should that come as any surprise to anyone that you and former MDOC employee Sam Thompson made sure that Tracey Sanders was taken care of??? Lets see, I believe it was Mr. Thompson who gave Tracey the interview questions for the job in Simpson County. Oh, by the way, wasn't Mr. Thompson "let go" for sexually harrassing female employees? My, isn't that interesting.

Kingfish said...

This is not a forum for questioning Mr. Epps on when his son was hired. He issued his reply. If you want documentation of his record, there is a perfectly legal way to do it. It is by filing a Freedom of Information Act Request. Contact whoever is in charge of public relations/news releases for MDOC and he will tell you how to file such a request. I have filed several myself with various state agencies. You have to be specific in your questions, however, who served in a position for how long will generally be answered in the FOIA request.

Kingfish said...

asking very accusatory questions is going to get a post zapped if its borderline slander. Especially when there are perfectly legal and legitimate ways to get the answers to the question.

By the way, the law only says he can not hire a family member after he is appointed. If he is already an employee, he can probably employ him wherever he wants to for the most part.

Anonymous said...

Not an accusatory question at all. Just a fact.

Anonymous said...

Just curious here. Seems some have been demoted, on their own choosing, however have been deomted with lesser salaries than those who have been demoted through dicipilanry actions. Any input?

Anonymous said...

Fact not rumor: Tracey Sanders gets the Position of Lieutenant at Simpson County Community Work Center. Commander Mary Williams of that Unit complains over and over to Deputy Commissioner Lora Cole regarding Mr. Sanders inability to report to work and his inability to perform while at work. Nothing was ever done regarding her complaints. She then requested to be transferred to Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. She has since left the agency.

Anonymous said...

Could be because she got fed up with sanders, his relationship to epps, and the "whole ball of wax" when employees are not reprimanded due to their relationship to the upper administration. Wasn't their another posting re: postions being created with high salaries and those who got those positions had little or no responsibilties? Seems it was on the Unit 32 blog in August.

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