Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves appointed Burl Cain, the longtime warden of Louisiana’s Angola State Prison, who resigned in 2015 after newspaper reports questioned his business and real estate dealings, to oversee the troubled Mississippi Department of Corrections, reports Mississippi Today. Reeves said he selected Cain, 77, who gained a national reputation for incorporating his Christian theology into the fabric of the notorious Louisiana prison, after a nationwide search because of his track record of reducing violence and crime at Angola. The appointment comes after the Mississippi prison system was rocked in 2013 with a scandal resulting in the conviction and sentence of 20 years for then-Commissioner Chris Epps, who received bribes to award contracts to private vendors.
It follows a 2020 outbreak of violence inside Mississippi prisons that resulted in the deaths of dozens of state inmates this year. Reeves indicated in January that more recent misspending had occurred in the department’s leadership ranks. “I promise to do a great job to help the Department of Corrections and do the four components that are essential to having a good prison: have good food, good playing, good praying and good medicine,” Cain said Wednesday. An audit by the Louisiana legislature found that 10 corrections employees performed work on Cain’s private residence, and some apparently while being paid by the state. The audit also claimed that while warden, Cain received other benefits such as free appliances and flat screen televisions (totaling $27,000) and lodging at Angola for his relatives. “I think what is important is those allegations were unfounded,” Cain said Wednesday. “There was no crime committed. What we have to do is avoid the hint of impropriety. We will continue to do that. I have done that throughout my career.”