Tunica Leaders Hire Convicted Sheriff, Others
(Tunica County, MS) Former Tunica County Sheriff Jerry Ellington was stripped of all responsibility in his job, before going to prison for in a scandal about ten years ago.
Now he’s back on the payroll, along with a handful of other folks with criminal records.
Most people in Tunica County forgive, especially when it comes to redemption and second chances.
That’s why most weren’t surprised to learn Monday night, the Board of Supervisors hired a handful of people with serious criminal records to join the County payroll.
”I don’t think there’s a problem with it, because sometimes people get caught up in different situations at the wrong time and have to do prison time. And when they get out they don’t have the resources to find jobs, so I think it’s a good idea to actually have ‘em work,” said Brian Smith.
But when we told him one of those the County hired, was a disgraced former Sheriff, we got a very different answer, ”What about Sheriff Ellington?” “No comment”.
In 2003, Jerry Ellington faced indictment for extortion and bribery.
He pled guilty to the bribery charges and spent two years in prison.
In a matter of days, he’ll join the County Road Department, along with a convicted child molester, drug dealer, and racketeer.
Supervisor Henry Nickson said he had personal reasons to vote for the hires, ”I’m a product of a parent that served some time. My father served some time once upon a time and when he got out he needed someone to take a second chance.”
He says it’s part of a planned county “second chance” program complete with drug testing, and education support.
He went on to say, “I don’t want it to be politically motivated”.
But some leaders say that’s exactly what it looked like.
Not all Supervisors agree with the hirings.
One, who asked not to be named, said they’re all for second chances, but felt the board acted too soon and needed more time to earn public trust before making a move like this.
Ellington isn’t without supporters, many of whom say he hasn’t been able to find a job since getting out of prison.
Many here say, as long as the convicts aren’t working in jobs that put them in the presence of children, or County tax money, they don’t mind giving them a paycheck.
”I think everybody deserves a second chance, you know, they get out the people look for a job, they have changed their lives” said Lakeitha Shipp of Tunica County.
But even the forgiving say they’ll be watching.
”As long as they can do it honestly” Shipp said.
Ellington isn’t the only former Sheriff with a prison record on the County payroll.
A few years ago, Former Sheriff John Pickett who went to prison for taking money in exchange for protecting drug dealers, was hired to work for the North Delta Planning District which oversees programs for the elderly, like Meals on Wheels.