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It’s time to change the law on pocketing money for feeding inmates for the whole state, not just for Etowah County

On the state level, Alabama has a problem funding it’s prison system, it’s expensive, it’s crowded, and it is a mess. Locally, Alabama Sheriffs have to love the way the county jails are set up. Some have been pocketing the extra money for years, some lend that money to failing car dealers, and as we have learned recently, some buy beach houses with the money. State Rep. Mack Butler has had enough, but only for Etowah County, according to Yellowhammer News:

“The text of Butler’s amendment is based off one that Rep. Corey Harbison (R-Cullman) proposed in February specific to Cullman County. Harbison’s amendment directs excess allowances into a special account called the “Sheriff’s Discretionary Fund.” It also requires the sheriff to receive an annual salary equal to that of the county’s probate judge.”

Why this matters: This issue keeps bubbling up, it is a constant source of embarrassment. The argument has been made that this incentivizes sheriffs to be fiscally responsible, maybe that is true, but these funds should be used for public matters. There is absolutely no reason to not change the law across the state of Alabama to eliminate this incentive and move on from these problems, there is no reason to have different systems in Cullman and Etowah counties.

The details:

— Counties receives $4 per federal inmate, from the federal government, and $1.75 per inmate from the state.

— In 2007, Morgan County’s Sheriff Greg Bartlett was arrested for violating a consent decree and feeding inmates “woefully insufficient” meals.

— Also in Morgan County, Sheriff Ana Franklin was found to have spent $150,000 dollars of inmate food dollars, which she eventually repaid,  to invest in a used car dealership in 2015.

— Some counties, like Madison and Tuscaloosa, have their programs managed by the county commissions.

Dale Jackson hosts a daily radio show from 7-11 a.m. on NewsTalk 770 AM/92.5 FM WVNN and a weekly television show, “Guerrilla Politics,” on WAAY-TV, both in North Alabama. Follow him @TheDaleJackson.

(Image: File)