MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Not backing down from his decision, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said embattled former Louisiana prison warden Burl Cain is the right person to lead the troubled Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Reeves made the announcement during his daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday.
“I have zero reservations about appointing him to lead the Department of Corrections,”
Reeve said. “I have absolute full confidence in Burl Cain’s abilities to change the culture at the Mississippi Department of Corrections.”
Cain headed the Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola and one of the country’s most notorious prisons, for 21 years, but resigned from his position in 2015 in the wake of media investigations into his business and real estate dealings, which came under scrutiny from the state auditor.
“Those allegations were unfounded,” Cain said. “There were no crimes committed and we have to avoid the hint of impropriety to do that and I’ve done that throughout my career.”
Reeves says the search committee was aware of the accusations against Cain.
“I was personally aware of the accusations,” Reeves said. “We did extensive research and seemed like that once the politics were removed the accusations were basically dropped.”
Mississippi prisons have had their share of problems. It has one of the highest incarceration rates in the united states.
In February, the Justice Department announced it’s investigating the state prison system after several inmates were killed or injured since late December.
At least 42 inmates have died since then, many from illnesses.
Reeves says he believes Cain’s decades of experience in corrections will lead to the changes needed to improve state prisons.
“I have absolute confidence he will do so in a way that will make all Mississippians proud,” Reeves said.