The Mississippi Department of Corrections should eliminate as many of its no-bid contracts as possible and start a competitive process to see if it can get better deals, says a group that’s reviewing the prison system after a former corrections commissioner was indicted on corruption charges.
The five-member task force met Monday and agreed on a dozen initial recommendations to give to Gov. Phil Bryant and lawmakers ahead of the three-month legislative session, which begins Jan. 6.
Bryant appointed the group in November after former Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps and businessman Cecil McCrory were indicted on federal corruption charges tied to prison contracts. The two men have pleaded not guilty and await trial in April.
Andy Taggart, an attorney who is co-chairman of the task force, said the recommendations are designed to promote transparency in government. He said even the tightest laws and regulations wouldn’t prevent people from engaging in bribery or other corrupt acts, if they’re inclined to do those things. However, Taggart said: “Our job is to make it as hard as possible.”
The task force, which will continue working several more months, recommends that all Department of Corrections contracts, no matter the dollar amount, go through a bid process.