On January 16th, Governor Tate Reeves announced the formation of a group to help find a new Commissioner for the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). The group, led by Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs, Jr., is conducting a nationwide search to provide a recommendation for the permanent Commissioner.
The deadline to submit applications was last Saturday, February 29th, and Mayor Flaggs says the search has been productive.
“So far, we have had around 50 applications submitted and I am impressed with what I have seen,” he said.
On February 5th, Governor Reeves announced the criteria for the next Commissioner, as recommended by the search committee.
What follows is the full criteria for the position of MDOC Commissioner:
Mississippi Commissioner of Corrections Position Opening
The Office of the Governor of the State of Mississippi is now accepting resumes for consideration to appointment as Mississippi’s next Commissioner of Corrections. This position provides overall management of the Department of Corrections to include its correctional facilities, administrative functions, and probation services. Of utmost importance is ensuring safety of personnel, offenders and the public while maintaining the efficiency of operations, emergency preparedness and adherence to policies and procedures set forth by Mississippi law.
- Candidates must demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively and maintain good working relationships with the community, the legislature, local, state and federal agencies, law enforcement, and the courts in the various counties of the State.
- Qualified candidates for the Commissioner of Corrections should have at least a bachelor’s degree in a field of study pertinent to the position.
- Work experience dealing with correctional institutions is preferred. In addition, all candidates should have management experience, including experience managing fiscal budgets.
- Candidates demonstrating excellent leadership skills and a proven ability to reform an organization or a governmental agency will be given the upmost consideration.
The Governor’s appointment must be affirmed with the advice and consent of the Mississippi Senate. Selected candidates may be subjected to multiple interviews and a background investigation.
Flaggs says, “I think, through the criteria established and the interview process, the final candidates are going to be great candidates, it’s just a matter of whether or not the state can afford who remains and if the legislature will approve paying more.”
The previous commissioner, Pelicia Hall, made over $130,000 annually. Flaggs says, “Given the current situation, I don’t think that is going to be enough to attract the very best person we can get to resolve this issue and to make sure we never face this issue again.”
Flaggs says the members of the search committee are now tasked with submitting their top five candidates from the pool of applicants. “Out of the five I have selected, I believe each one can do the job and has the expertise needed to perform.”
Flaggs says, ultimately, the committee will submit at least three candidates to the Governor, vet the candidates, and ensure the candidate is committed to coming to work for the state of Mississippi. “Given the publicity around the corrections crisis, anyone who is chosen, and is committed to coming to the state during the crisis, is probably going to do a good job. Nobody in this country doesn’t know we are in a crisis; nobody in this country doesn’t know it’s in a deplorable situation; nobody in this country doesn’t know that we’re being sued; nobody in this country doesn’t know there have been some funding issues.”
Flaggs says applications have been received from both inside Mississippi, as well as outside of the state. “We have some that have Mississippi connections, have lived in Mississippi, but no longer live in Mississippi now, but they know the landscape and are willing to come back to help make a contribution by turning this system around. The good news is that Governor Reeves has given us the latitude to hire the best we can hire. We don’t want to miss that opportunity.”
Flaggs says each of the committee members will submit the names of their top five candidates on Friday, March 13th, and hope to have a finalist selected before the end of the legislative session. “The person that is chosen has to be confirmed by the Senate, so we want to give them time to be vetted. We’re looking at the end of March or the first part of April to try to submit some names to the Governor. The quicker we get somebody in place, the quicker we can bring about some stability. I applaud the Governor for making this a priority.”
Flaggs says he will not vote on the candidate unless there is a tie in the search committee. “My job is to preside over them and to navigate them through this process. I have no vested interest other than to satisfy the Governor and making sure we get the best applicant out there.”
Flaggs says, “We can’t make any more mistakes. We can’t have this kind of black eye on the state of Mississippi, anymore.”