Counties will handle inmate food funds rather than sheriffs

Governor Ivey released a memo saying sheriffs will no longer receive inmate food allowances directly.

Posted: Jul. 11, 2018 2:40 PM
Updated: Jul. 11, 2018 5:28 PM

Governor Kay Ivey announced that inmate food funds will no longer go directly to the sheriffs and instead will be taken over by individual counties.

Ivey's decision comes after many sheriffs across the state found themselves in hot water and legal problems over whether or not they were pocketing left over inmate food funds.

An Alabama law states that sheriffs can retain leftover money from the inmate food funds. Ivey's team said they are merely changing how the money is distributed.

We called Ivey's team for clarification on this memo. They said she can legally do this, going off a 2011 Attorney General opinion that says the money can only be used to feed inmates instead of being used as personal income.

Ivey is also calling on lawmakers to draft a bill in the next session saying sheriffs cannot pocket any money off of inmate food funds. Ivey's office said now the allowance to feed inmates will go to a county's general fund or an account specifically set up for the sheriff's office.

"In my opinion it's not the sheriff's responsibility to have to feed the inmates. It should be the county's responsibility," said Renae Herring.

This is where Ivey's memo gets confusing. When Colbert County Sheriff, Frank Williamson took office he had to take out a $10,000 loan to feed inmates until the state funds kicked in. In past stories Williamson said he still owes about $4,000 on his personal loan and they spend about $1,500 a week to feed inmates at the Colbert County Jail.

We called the Association of County Commissions of Alabama to find out if the individual counties would have to pay the sheriffs back on their personal loans and to clear up how they would handle the inmate food allowances, but haven't heard back from them.

WAAY 31 also reached out to a few Colbert County Commissioners about Ivey's memo. They said since the memo just came out they will be looking for clarification and guidance on this. Williamson was directed by the Sheriff's Association to not comment on the matter until they released a statement.

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