Sean S.

Director of Corrections Investigation
Mississippi Department of Corrections

Sean earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Jackson State University in 1992, but his desire to help people led him instead to the business of corrections. Sean, now director of the Corrections Investigation Division, has been with the Mississippi Department of Corrections (DOC) for 16 years. He started out as a correctional officer and eventually became officer in charge, training new officers assigned to a special needs unit at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, Miss.

Four years later, he was supervising 150 probationers in Hinds County. He attended the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Training Academy, and graduated in 2002 as a squad leader. In October of that year, he joined the Corrections Investigation Division. He became acting investigative chief for eight months.

Sean is one of the four founders of the Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team (FAST) program; he wrote policies and recruited and trained members. The unit has a 100-percent capture rate. “The program relies on immediacy and cooperation from multiple jurisdictional sources,” Sean said. “FAST was created to provide a comprehensive way of getting law enforcement together quickly to better use resources immediately to capture fugitives.”

Perhaps one of the most famous captures Sean has been a part of was the Larry Hentz case, which was featured on “America’s Most Wanted” (AMW). According to Sean, Hentz, who was serving a life sentence for homicide, fled the maximum-security Mississippi State Penitentiary during the early morning of Nov. 17, 2003. “Using wire cutters smuggled in by his wife, he cut out of his window, through two security fences beneath a security tower, crossed a three-mile long open field and was picked up along U.S. 49 by his wife,” said Sean, who was an integrity investigator at the time. “Hentz had seven hours ahead of investigators before he was discovered missing. He had left a dummy in his bed in his cell.”

“As a member of the Mississippi DOC, I was not happy with the fact that an inmate had escaped our maximum-security prison. Remember, I was just one of many people working to capture Hentz,” Sean said. “But when AMW agreed to feature his escape, we were elated because it meant that our net to capture him was greatly expanded with the national attention.” Thanks to information the DOC team received from AMW, the Hentz couple was captured on Dec. 11, 2003, in San Diego before they attempted to cross the border. “This assured the public that we were serious about escapes,” Sean said.

Sean was on hand for another escape in September 2012, but this time, he was in charge of the division responsible for investigating the escape. Michael Dowda, serving a life sentence for homicide, was free for three days before U.S. Marshals closed in on him in Macon, Ga. Sean, who promotes close cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, worked around the clock with federal authorities tracking Dowda until he could be captured without incident. “I enjoy playing a key role in ensuring that the Mississippi DOC is an agency that provides and promotes public safety through efficient and effective offender custody, care, control and treatment consistent with sound correctional principles and constitutional standards.”

According to Mississippi DOC Commissioner, Sean is well-known throughout the DOC for his determined work ethic, versatility and willingness to move outside his comfort zone to keep learning. He performs well under pressure and commands respect from his peers. “Sean is energetic, detailed and thorough in his work—a true professional,” said the Commissioner, who promoted Sean from interim director of the Corrections Investigation Division to director in January 2013. “He has proven to be more than a capable leader. He understands the challenges of the job, knows what my priorities are, and is about the business of getting things done. He is a team player and respected among his colleagues.”

Sean’s ultimate goal is to one day become a corrections commissioner himself. “I am constantly challenging myself.” he said. “To be an effective leader you need to be knowledgeable and flexible and always strive to go higher.”

Reprinted with permission from Corrections Today
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