Prison contracts task force is reviewing documents

JACKSON — Former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore said Friday that he and others on a new task force have already started examining contracts awarded by the Department of Corrections as they evaluate state spending with private prison companies and other vendors.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant created the five-member task force this month after former Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps and businessman Cecil McCrory were indicted in a bribery scheme that allegedly provided Epps with luxury vehicles, an upscale home in a gated community outside Jackson and a beachside condominium on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Moore, a Democrat, was attorney general from 1988 to 2004 and served on a state board in the mid-1990s that oversaw several prison construction projects after the state was sued because of crowding and poor conditions in the prisons. Mississippi, at that time, also was starting to use private contractors to run some prisons.

“Probably, there needs to be an examination of what we’re outsourcing,” Moore said in a phone interview Friday from his private law office. “Has it rapidly expanded for some reason, the last five or six years? Are there some things the state ought to be doing ourselves without contracting it out? Are we paying the best price for the product we’re getting?”

The Commercial Dispatch