JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - The Mississippi Office of Capital Post-Conviction Counsel has a severe lack of internal controls, questionable hiring practices, and an uncertain oversight mechanism, according to a report released by the Office of the State Auditor.
The purpose of the audit is to evaluate the CPCC, to identify issues that could be affecting the agency's ability to provide quality representation to persons under sentence of death and to determine whether there are internal controls to detect and/or eliminate opportunities for fraud, waste, and abuse, according to a news release issued by Stacey Pickering's office.
The CPCC was established by the Legislature in 2000 for the purpose of representing defendants on death row who, as determined by the court, cannot afford outside counsel.
According to Pickering, because the CPCC are the last line of defense for those facing the death penalty, it is very important that this agency operate as efficiently and effectively as possible.
The Office of the State Auditor noted the following areas that have significant deficiencies:
- The CPCC executive director does not ensure that all staff have met requisite qualifications to perform their jobs and give high quality representation to its clients.
- The CPCC executive director does not formally conduct performance evaluations or reviews for staff members.
- The CPCC does not follow American Bar Association Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases.
- CPCC does not operate within state guidelines for travel vouchers, travel cards, procurement cards, or petty cash.
- CPCC does not follow standard practices for contracts.
The full audit report is available on the OSA website here.