JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced new leadership for two major positions at Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing.
Reeves announced Burl Cain as the new head of Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Cain spent more than 20 years as prison administrator and warden at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
“Went from beatings to Bible studies," Reeves said. "He transformed America’s bloodiest prison into the model of success for the nation.”
But along with the praise comes some scrutiny. Questions were raised about Cain’s past.
Louisiana news reports indicate he was the subject of multiple state investigations and later a legislative audit that said he had prison employees work on his personal home and used public funds for personal use.
“It was unfounded as far as any wrongdoing, ethics violations and what have you,” said Cain.
“Once the politics were removed, the accusations were basically dropped and I have absolute full confidence in Burl Cain’s ability to change the culture at the MDOC," explained Reeves who says he and the search committee were aware of the accusations. "I have absolute full confidence he will do so in a way that will make all Mississippians proud.”
Cain’s says his priorities right now would be this:
“We want to really work on less victims of violent crime, safety in the prisons, safety for the staff," noted Cain. "We want to have more rehabilitation.”
Sean Tindell is being named the new leader of the Department of Public Safety. It’s a heavy lift with several divisions including the crime lab, Bureaus of Investigation and Narcotics, Highway Patrol and Driver Services which is a hot topic as locations are closed due to COVID-19.
“Try to find ways to improve and make it better so that when we do open, obviously there’s going to be a flood of people showing up to get drivers licenses," said Tindell. "It comes down to customer service, somewhere like that. Nothing makes people madder than having to get somewhere and wait for three or four hours to get something they need.”
Tindell’s background is as an assistant district attorney, State Senator and most recently as a Judge on the State Court of Appeals.
He says that while he doesn’t have law enforcement experience, he has had close working relationships with law enforcement in his previous jobs.