JACKSON, Miss.–With the recent indictment of long-time former Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps and a new task force looking into what went wrong and how deep the kick-backs scam was in the department, the Mississippi legislature is also taking measures to make sure taxpayer dollars are protected.
Wednesday two Senate bills that may help control how Corrections money is spent passed the Senate.
Senate Bill 2521, authored by Sen. Sean Tindell, will move control of the Inmate Welfare Fund from the Mississippi Department of Corrections to the Office of the State Treasurer. The bill also establishes the Inmate Welfare Fund Committee, which will be responsible for administration and supervision of the operations and expenditures of the Inmate Welfare Fund.
Senate Bill 2562, also authored by Sen. Tindell, will move control of certain agricultural leases from the Mississippi Department of Corrections to the Office of the Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce. A similar measure in the House (House Bill 403) would move the leases to the control of the secretary of state. The Department of Corrections generates special fund revenue by leasing agricultural lands.
“We are undertaking bold reforms at the Mississippi Department of Corrections, and these two bills help further that effort,” said Gov. Phil Bryant. “By tightening controls of the Inmate Welfare Fund and separating the oversight of ag leasing revenue generation from its expenditure, we are increasing accountability to taxpayers. I thank the Senate for advancing these reform measures.”