AL Gov Acts on Sheriffs’ Inmate Food Funds

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey took a small step this week toward stopping the state from allowing sheriffs to pocket public money allocated to feeding local inmates that they do not spend. Ivey cannot and did not end the longstanding practice, reports Ivey directed the state comptroller’s office to stop depositing some of the jail food money into sheriffs’ personal accounts and instead pay it into sheriffs’ official county accounts. The move will not actually bar sheriffs from ultimately receiving that money, said Ivey spokesman Daniel Sparkman. “The intention of this is it’s the first step in making sure public funds stay public funds. Another step in this would be that the legislature …  clarify the law.”

Robert Timmons of the Alabama Sheriffs Association said he would like to see oversight of inmate-feeding taken away from sheriffs and handed over to county governments or the state, but such a change can only be made via a new state law. In most cases, the state currently deposits $1.75 per day into sheriffs’ official county accounts for each inmate housed in the county jails they oversee. Fewer than 20 counties have passed laws that hand over control of inmate-feeding from sheriffs to the counties themselves. In those counties, the state instead deposits the $1.75 per day into accounts managed by the county government. In March, reported that Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin personally kept more than $750,000 in local, state and federal funds allocated to feed inmates in his jail over the past three years and went on to purchase a $740,000 beach house in September. Chris Henrichson of the Vera Institute of Justice called on the state to find a way to stop sheriffs from pocketing “leftover” inmate-feeding funds.

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