Federal prosecutors earlier this year acted to seize Christopher
Epps' home, a vacation condominium and two of his cars, court
documents obtained by Reuters on Wednesday show.
The documents refer to a complaint, filed in March, without making
clear what its contents are.
"I am resigning my position as commissioner effective today," Epps
wrote in a statement to prison workers. "I love this agency, and I
love you, the people who make up this agency. I thank all of you for
Epps, who had served as commissioner of the Mississippi Department
of Corrections since 2002, is a national figure in prison
administration circles, serving as president of both the American
Correctional Association and the Association of State Correctional
His name had been removed from both groups' websites as of Wednesday
A spokesman for Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and a spokeswoman
for the state corrections department denied knowledge of a federal
probe involving Epps, and the Jackson-based U.S. Attorney's office
did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Bryant has named Richard McCarty, a senior deputy corrections
commissioner, as Epps' interim replacement, a gubernatorial
[to top of second column]
Epps' resignation comes in the wake of a Clarion-Ledger
investigative series and a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU
alleging systemic problems in the state's prisons, from mold
infestations to cases of guards and administrators effectively
ceding control of prison life to gang-affiliated inmates.
Mississippi, which has the nation's second-highest incarceration
rate behind Louisiana, had more than 22,500 prisoners in 2013.
(Writing by Jonathan Kaminsky; Editing by Eric Walsh)
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