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Marshall County amendment passes, allows full, local control over excess jail food funds

Sheriff Phil Sims said all of the excess money left over after feeding inmates will go toward things that improve conditions in the jail, including equipment and training for corrections officers and learning opportunities for inmates.
Sheriff Phil Sims said all of the excess money left over after feeding inmates will go toward things that improve conditions in the jail, including equipment and training for corrections officers and learning opportunities for inmates.

The amendment passed in Marshall County with about 80 percent of the vote.

Posted: Mar 3, 2020 10:20 PM
Updated: Mar 3, 2020 10:36 PM

After a statewide overhaul of how money to feed jail inmates can be spent, Marshall County has won local control over any and all excess funds.

During Tuesday's primary elections, voters in Marshall County passed Local Amendment Number One with more than 80 percent of the vote.

Under a state law passed in 2019, 75 percent of any excess money used to feed inmates in county jails needed to go into a fund for the following year that would also be used to feed inmates. The sheriff's office in any given county would have access to the remaining 25 percent.

The law also increased the amount spent to feed an inmate from $1.75 to $2.25 per inmate, per day.

Under the newly passed amendment, Marshall County Sheriff Phil Sims will have access to all remaining funds not used to feed inmates to be used for law enforcement purposes, like buying equipment and additional training.

Sheriff Phil Sims spoke with WAAY 31 News after the results were finalized and said this was a victory for both jail staff and inmates.

"I would like to use it for inmate reentry programs, help get GED's, parenting classes, anything to help them when they're released get back to society, to benefit society,” said Sheriff Sims.

Those who voted in favor of the measure on Thursday said they want the sheriff's office to have access to more of the equipment they need.

"I would like to see them purchase new patrol vehicles, the weapons that they need, ballistic vests and also upgrade the county jail. It's in bad shape and it needs a lot of work done to it," said voter Jason Keton.

Others who opposed the measure, like Albertville resident Lawrence Rives, said they are worried that the funds may be abused.

“It's prone to abuse, as we have seen, so I want it to be used for food. If they have extra, buy them some bananas and apples, you know?” said Rives.

Sheriff Sims said Tuesday night’s amendment will put the issue of inmate food funds to rest.

“This will enable to make sure that the food bill issue never pops up in Marshall County again. It sets it in stone that inmates will always be fed first, the first priority, and that the sheriff from here on out will never profit personally from the food bill in Marshall County,” said Sheriff Sims.

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