Thursday, January 16, 2020

Governor Forms MDOC Committee, Installs Interim MDOC Commissioner

Reeves: "There is a leadership crisis that starts at the top."

First Consul Tate Reeves issued the following statement about MDOC today.

Today, Governor Tate Reeves announced a group of diverse, experienced Mississippians to help in the mission of finding a new leader for the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). Holding a press conference in the Governor's press briefing room, Governor Reeves was joined by the group, led by Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs, Jr., that will assist in a nationwide search to provide a recommendation for the MDOC Commissioner.

"We cannot rush the critical job of finding a new Commissioner for the Department of Corrections. We must get this right for the people of Mississippi. I am turning to my fellow Mississippians to help me in this mission," said Governor Tate Reeves.

The Honorable George Flaggs, Jr. is currently serving his second term as mayor of the City of Vicksburg. He first took the oath of office in 2013. Previously, Mayor Flaggs served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1988 to 2013. He served as Chair of the Corrections Committee and served on several other committees, including Appropriations, Banking and Financial Services, Constitution, Legislative Budget Committee, Public Health and Human Services and Rules.

Other members of the search group (in alphabetical order):

Retired Sheriff Greg Waggoner has over 43 years of law enforcement experience, serving 20 of those years in corrections. He retired with the rank of Captain and ran for Sheriff of Leake County in 1999. He has served as Leake County Sheriff for 20 years, recently retiring from that office. Sheriff Waggoner has a Bachelors degree from Mississippi College in Administration of Justice.

Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens He is the former Managing Attorney of the Mississippi office of the Southern Poverty Law Center. In this role, he has brought civil rights cases throughout Mississippi. In his legal career, he has tried civil and criminal jury trials. He has experience litigating cases several states, including Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi both in state and federal court. Previously, Owens served as a Hinds County Special Prosecutor. He is a graduate of Jackson State University and received his law degree from Howard University Law School. Jody is a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Reserves and has proudly served his country for over seven years.

District Attorney Joel Smith currently serves in the Harrison County District Attorney's Office. In his duty as District Attorney, Smith prosecutes and defends on behalf of the State, in all courts of the County. In his legal career, he has experience trying criminal and civil cases.

Kathy Henry recently served for over 5 years on the Parole Board, appointed by Governor Phil Bryant. Prior to that, she served 20 years on the Governor's Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, appointed by Governor Kirk Fordice and reappointed by Governor Haley Barbour. Henry was also appointed by Governor Barbour as Mississippi's Representative on the National Juvenile Justice Advisor Committee. For eight years, she worked for Congressman Chip Pickering, where her duties required her to work with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Sheriff Steve Rushing currently serves as Sheriff of Lincoln County, having recently been elected to serve his fourth term. He began as Deputy Sheriff in Lincoln County in 1996, moving up to Captain of Investigations before becoming Sheriff in 2006. During the last 13 years as Sheriff, he has been a member of the National Sheriff’s Association, a member of the Mississippi Sheriff’s Association where he was elected twice to serve as President, and currently is serving on the legislative committee of the Mississippi Sheriff’s Association. Sheriff Rushing is a graduate of Copiah-Lincoln Community College and holds a degree in criminal justice from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Judge Sean J. Tindell currently serves on the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Previously, Judge Tindell served in the Mississippi Senate from 2012 until his appointment to the bench. He was Chair of the Senate Judiciary A Committee and Vice Chair of the Senate Tourism Committee. From 2002 to 2007, he was an assistant district attorney for the Second Circuit District of Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties. Judge Tindell entered private practice in 2007, also serving as a prosecutor for the City of Biloxi and as city attorney for the City of Diamondhead.


Governor Reeves also announced the Interim Commissioner for the Department of Corrections during the press conference. Mayor Tommy Taylor was unable to attend the press conference as he was closing out his duties as Mayor of Boyle to begin serving as Interim Commissioner right away.

"While we work to find the right fit for our state and our people, we need an experienced leader who can step in and step up to restore order in the short term. I have asked Mayor Tommy Taylor to serve as Interim Commissioner for the Department of Corrections, and I am glad to announce that he has accepted this critical task. Mayor Taylor has proven his dedication to serving our citizens—today he is stepping up to serve Mississippi once again," said Governor Reeves.

The Honorable Tommy Taylor has a long and storied career of serving Mississippi. Before serving as Mayor of Boyle, Taylor was a member of the House of Representatives. He served as Chair of the Corrections Committee and served on several other committees, including Judiciary B, Judiciary En Blanc, and Military Affairs. Mayor Taylor's service to Mississippi also includes time serving as a District Attorney Investigator, Chief Deputy Sheriff, city police officer, Prison Warden and Election Commissioner in Bolivar County from 1985 to 1987.


During the press conference, Governor Reeves disclosed that on his first day in office he instructed the Department of Public Safety to assign an officer from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations to bring order and root out the underlying issues at the State Penitentiary at Parchman and throughout the Department of Corrections. Stationed at Parchman, the officer is tasked with uncovering any criminal activity—whether it be conducted by inmates or correctional staff—and providing a full, independent investigation.

"The ultimate responsibility for violence always lies with those who carry it out. But in this moment, we must ask if there is more that we can do to eliminate the opportunity for such actions. Can we do more to provide for peace? I believe we can. To do so, we must get to the heart of the problem. And it starts with bringing order to Parchman," Governor Reeves said.

Kingfish note: Some lawmakers were miffed the Governor did not include any legislators on the committee but Governor Reeves was adamant about following the separation of powers doctrine.


Anonymous said...

Hope Tate gets this right. This is an embarrassment to the state and needs to be corrected.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of half of the list and put some foot Soldiers in the mix. Same old bullshit! More committees and studies and nothing gets done! Just ask the damn correctional officers across Mississippi with a statewide poll. Geese!!! Or roll the freeking dice!

Anonymous said...

3:40 --- Great advice! Which half of the correctional officers do you want to ask? The half that is spending half their working hours screwing the inmates leading to the start of the riots, those that are assisting the inmates with prolonging the riots by sharing cell keys, the ones that have a previous affiliation with the gangs that are in the midst of the riots, the officers that are bringing the contraband into the facilities for a few dollars on the side, or the ones that are truly trying to do their job despite all the hinderances that are being thrown in front of their small group who would like to see the problems solved (and the others kicked out or moved from the "outside" to the "inside" of those cells)?

Welcome to the Tater Show said...

"I've searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statutes of committees."

G.K. Chesterton

Anonymous said...

A national search for anyone who wants to take over a broken underfunded system. It's the Mayor Taylor's Job for the foreseeable future.

Anonymous said...

Since he did such a good job for Ole Miss, maybe Glenn Boyce will help with the search....

Anonymous said...

The question is "Will a prisons expert recognize the abject failure that the community corrections department is with its current Deputy Commissioner and put them out of their misery?

Anonymous said...

I can tell you who to hire. His name is Joe Arpaio.

Anonymous said...

@5:28- the prisoners already run the prison. Why pay another one to do it?

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you are a troll or a mass media moron. Joe Arpio was a patriot who protected the people of Arizona from criminal illegal aliens. The Obama DOJ targeted him with numerous Federal charges for "racial profiling" and got him on contempt. When President Trump pardoned him in 2017 he called him a hero. And that he is. That type of patriotic heroism terrifies traitorous libs.

Anonymous said...

Robert Graham

Anonymous said...

Joe Arpaio would be the best choice by far.

The sad thing is, I doubt we could afford him.

Joe would cost more than Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin combined.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

3:36, I see what you did there.

Anonymous said...

Reeves: "There is a leadership crisis that starts at the top."

Blame it on Pheel Bryant?

Too bad Tate didn't have a clue this was a problem before he was elected gubner. Otherwise Tate could have made it a campaign issue to own the Dems with!

Anonymous said...

Governor Reeves is inaugurated.

The IHL stalls moving the Confederate statue at Ole Miss.

It hasn't been a good week for the progressives.

Anonymous said...

So Tate doesn’t know what to do but said he will fix things soooo...Because all these people who have never worked in Corrections but are owed political favors by him are on this committee. Owens has a county Jail to fix, a city with a crime rate that is out of control, constituents who are being terrorized and shot in their homes. He has never prosecuted anything but will have time to search for a Corrections Commissioner while learning how to run a new office? Hinds County your still in trouble! These Sheriffs are probably good Law Officers but don’t have a clue about the state prison system. Waggoner was responsible for bringing Epps down. Those that have served on the Corrections Committee(s) as members of the legislature? Well aren’t they part of the reason we are in this crisis? They let Epps have unlimited sole source contracts with no oversight and the failed to fund the agency. The former Parole Board Member? Well her husband has been raising money for the republicans for a while. The list of appointments she has held with no real qualifications is evidence of that. And this Interim Commissioner,Mayor, Investigator ..well it’s just plain scary.
Couldn’t find one person with Corrections Experience??

Anonymous said...

The entire list is nothing but Mississippi re-treads with no real management experience to bring to the table....ALL are career bureaucrats...which means they're all bullshit artists.

To the comment about whether tater should have known what was going on while Pheel was in office....of course he should have, but he obviously did not. THAT will continue with Dipshit Hosemann and Reeves where each does his own thing while Mississippi crumbles.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been a Tater fan, but this effort actually smacks of leadership. Judge this effort by the results; and until then, all you pontificators should try to resist the petty comments hurled from the cheap seats.

Victor Fleitas said...

I agree with 6:03 a.m. Having looked at these problems from too close for several years the Governor’s early words and actions appear promising. He’s sensibly trying to get a foothold on trying to solve this crisis before matters are entirely beyond his control. I can’t know for certain whether he’s sincere in this effort or not. For now, I am willing to take him at his word and give him the benefit of the doubt. I hope this committee succeeds in its mission. I wish the new Interim Commissioner all the best.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laughs, 6:43 pm. Pure comedy.

Anonymous said...

Will Owens be working on his own time for this committee or using the time he should be devoting to the issues within Hinds County DA Office?

Anonymous said...

Take MDOC out from under SPB protection, pull fresh backgrounds/drug tests on all of the COs, cull the herd, hire a new workforce to staff Walnut Grove at the higher proposed salary, separate STG shot callers geographically and away from their soldiers, and install the necessary sensing and countermeasure equipment to deal with illicit communication devices. Institute 100% search of all employees and vehicles when they enter the property and require COs to secure anything that could be construed as contraband in lockers outside of the security perimeter. Then, find common ground with the ACLU or whomever else is bitching about inmate labor so inmates can be put back to work learning something other than criminal tradecraft while incarcerated.

It's time to quit fiddling around the edges and solve this problem.

Kingfish said...

Owens is on there because he was at SPLC, probably. Giving that crowd a voice at the table, it appears. One of several voices. Considering the lawsuits are probably getting ginned up by several groups as well as inmates, probably not a bad idea.

Anyone notice the shots that were taken at the previous administration?

Bringing in outside help to investigate was a clear show of no-confidence in MDOC leadership. Frankly, I personally don't believe anything the current MDOC leadership says right now. The former Governor blamed inmates and "criminals" last week. uh huh, those criminals probably include the members of the staff and I don't mean just prison guards. The head of criminal investigations at MDOC should probably go ahead and quit if he hasn't done so already.

Employee Appraisal said...

When a manager doesn't know what the hell to do about a problem, he forms a committee. He should not be promoted if that's his approach to management.

An obvious corollary is General Fitch deciding to install a community outreach and neighborhood relationship department as a means of serving as the state's legal expert and prosecutor.

In short, if I have no idea what I'm doing, I'll do something to make you think I do.

Anonymous said...

Polygraph (Lie Detector) testing is legal and approved in certain employment situations. Ron Welch might object, but would it be cost prohibitive to at least randomly test these so called Corrections Officers?

Anonymous said...

Great post 9:05, but you used the wrong F-Word in your last sentence.

Anonymous said...

11:25, I try not to use the f-word before 10:00 am. That said, Tate needs to quit fucking around and solve the problem! It will take balls, but let’s see what ole Tate’s made of. Equally telling will be how he handles DPS and all of the bullshit over there.

We’re watching Tate...and we know you and your staff read this blog and know where the problems are...don’t disappoint us so early in tour term.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad there is a sheriff and a retired sheriff on this. The sheriff's of this state know very well the problems of MDOC and they will side with the taxpayers. The people are having to foot this and there needs to be an overhaul.

Anonymous said...

11:25:. I hope you're right about the governor reading this site. Still he has taken no action on community corrections. How difficult is fire one sorry lame &$#@$$#&& deputy commissioner and put an acting DEP common in place?

Anonymous said...

Tater is going to learn when the courts makes the decisions for him. Of course he will fight it tooth and nail. It cost to fix these problems and everybody knows Tater is going to scream when it comes time to raise taxes.
The alternative is, releasing the least dangerous 15-20%.

Anonymous said...

Vicksburg is jr. version of Jackson..Flaggs should stick to trying to save IT.

Anonymous said...

@6:08 like Owens should stick to fixing problems in Hinds County.

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