Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday said “No more,” when it comes to the state giving jail food funds to “sheriff’s personally.” In a memo to the state comptroller, Governor Ivey rescinded the state’s 2008 policy of “paying prisoner food service allowances directly to sheriffs in their personal capacities.” That memo says “All such funds should be directed to the county general fund or to an account established for the sheriff’s official use.”
The move comes in the wake of heated criticism that some of Alabama sheriff’s profited in a big way by feeding inmates poorly, so they could pocket the money gained by doing so. According to an al.com article the law which was passed in the days when chain gangs were common gives sheriffs $1.75 a day to feed each prisoner and another statute said that those sheriffs could “retain” excess money.
The controversy has centered on the meaning of the word “retain” and whether that means personally or for official use.
Some sheriffs have significantly boosted their income from excess food funds.
A federal judge in 2009 held Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett – who made $212,000 over three years off of excess food funds – in contempt of court for failing to feed inmates properly. Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin, who recently lost a bid for re-election, released tax forms showing that he made a profit of $672,392 from the jail kitchen in 2015 and 2016. Many people also questioned how Entrekin could afford multiple homes including one valued at $740,000 on a sheriff’s office salary.