Morgan County, Alabama, Sheriff Greg Bartlett was released from jail yesterday after his lawyer laid out a plan to a federal judge for improving jailhouse meals, reports the Huntsville Times. U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon locked up Bartlett Wednesday night for failing to abide by a 2001 decree to provide more adequate meals for inmates. Bartlett has pocketed more than $200,000 – legally – since 2006 from state money used to feed prisoners. Under a 1939 state law, sheriffs in 55 of Alabama’s 67 counties are allowed to keep money left over after feeding county inmates from state funds.
Melanie Velez, an attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights, which is representing prisoners who are seeking sanctions against Bartlett, said, “Many of our clients lost weight and went hungry because the portions were so small.” Carol Harbin, the nutritionist that Morgan County consults, told the court the food on the menu was adequate for the prisoners. The sheriff’s ability to pocket state money has raised some eyebrows. In one example, the prisoners ate corn dogs every day for months because Bartlett got a good deal and bought an 18-wheeler truckload for $500.