6 north Alabama sheriffs named in lawsuit over funds for feeding inmates

Six North Alabama sheriff's are on the lawsuit filed by the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. Those counties and sheriffs include: Frank Williamson (Colbert County), Shannon Oliver (Franklin County), Rick Singleton (Lauderdale County), Gene Mitchell (Lawrence County), Scott Walls (Marshall County), and Chuck Phillips (Jackson County).

Posted: Jan 11, 2018 5:54 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2018 10:16 PM

A lawsuit against 49 sheriffs in Alabama is asking them to hand over personal documents to see if, and by how much, they have profited off of feeding inmates.

Six North Alabama sheriff's are on the lawsuit filed by the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. Those counties and sheriffs include: Frank Williamson (Colbert County), Shannon Oliver (Franklin County), Rick Singleton (Lauderdale County), Gene Mitchell (Lawrence County), Scott Walls (Marshall County), and Chuck Phillips (Jackson County).

WAAY 31 spoke with all of the sheriffs in the Shoals who said they had to take out personal loans just to make sure inmates were properly fed. Colbert County Sheriff Frank Williamson gave WAAY 31 a tour of their jail kitchen and a look at the food inmates eat.

Williamson said his inmates eat pretty well -- getting meals of mashed potatoes, Salisbury steak, hot dogs, hamburgers, beans, turkey bacon and eggs. When Williamson took office, he worked with a dietician to help develop a meal plan for inmates. Each meal costs about $1.60 - $1.65 and inmates are fed 3 times a day. They typically spend around $1,500 a week on meals for inmates.

"The state gives us $1.75 a day for three meals and that's all we get," said Williamson.

Because they wouldn't have enough money to pay for inmates meals off of $1.75 a day from the state the sheriff had to take out a $10,000 loan to make up the difference. Lauderdale and Franklin County sheriffs also had to do the same when they took office.

"I had to borrow money to do this on my own personal social security number and I still owe money on that," said Williamson.

It's that personal loan and other financial records that's at the core of the lawsuit against the 49 Alabama sheriffs. The lawsuit states these sheriffs, including Williamson, have violated the Alabama Public Records Law by failing to turn over their personal financial records to see if they are profiting off feeding inmates.

"I don't mind them having what the state pays me and what I pay out, but the personal side of it, unless a judge tells me, I am not going to divulge that. It's not like I get anything off it. The only thing I am doing is paying a loan back," said Williamson.

Under Alabama state law sheriffs can keep any left over money from feeding inmates. The Southern Center for Human Rights said this “creates a perverse incentive to spend as little as possible on feeding people who are in jail.”

Williamson tells us if they ever have extra money it goes to pay off the $4,000 he still owes on the personal loan. Williamson said sometimes people donate food and that helps him save money for the loan payment.

"I put that on top of what they are getting. We don't try to hold back on anything," said Williamson.

Lauderdale and Franklin County sheriffs said they have paid off their personal loans used to feed inmates. They both said if they ever have left over money they put it back as a cushion in their food fund.

Huntsville
Overcast
58° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 58°
Florence
Overcast
58° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 58°
Fayetteville
Overcast
57° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 57°
Decatur
Overcast
58° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 58°
Scottsboro
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 63°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 158701

Reported Deaths: 2680
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23292377
Mobile16916315
Tuscaloosa10345140
Montgomery10250197
Madison935096
Shelby739063
Baldwin665869
Lee654665
Calhoun459961
Marshall439550
Etowah428551
Houston417034
Morgan416435
DeKalb342629
Elmore320853
St. Clair295542
Limestone287230
Walker279492
Talladega266435
Cullman248024
Lauderdale229442
Jackson215915
Autauga205931
Franklin205531
Colbert202132
Russell19493
Blount193225
Chilton188432
Dallas186627
Coffee177111
Dale176351
Covington174729
Escambia172730
Clarke135217
Chambers135044
Pike134113
Tallapoosa132987
Marion108129
Barbour10339
Marengo101922
Butler101140
Winston92913
Geneva9067
Lawrence85832
Pickens85218
Bibb84014
Randolph82716
Hale76830
Washington74912
Clay74412
Cherokee73814
Henry7176
Lowndes71328
Bullock64917
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60830
Perry5926
Fayette57713
Cleburne5698
Wilcox56812
Conecuh56113
Macon53620
Lamar4965
Sumter47221
Choctaw39212
Greene34216
Coosa2043
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 247587

Reported Deaths: 3131
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby36376562
Davidson31748337
Knox1273889
Rutherford11893114
Hamilton11758109
Williamson710256
Sumner6114110
Wilson469059
Putnam444056
Montgomery421756
Out of TN407935
Madison378079
Sullivan376346
Bradley358723
Washington347651
Sevier335122
Blount334336
Maury330737
Robertson261441
Hamblen246448
Tipton236723
Dyer223732
Unassigned22063
Gibson216244
Hardeman189833
Coffee189425
Obion178822
Trousdale17758
Greene175052
Bedford170920
Fayette169225
Dickson169119
Anderson168814
McMinn164036
Loudon162311
Lawrence161820
Cumberland161025
Wayne16007
Weakley156126
Carter155633
Jefferson155521
Monroe146228
Warren143910
Lauderdale143617
Henderson141626
Hardin139720
Macon134325
Roane13027
Franklin129519
Haywood129527
Overton122717
Hawkins120925
White118814
Johnson11507
Carroll114826
Marshall113810
McNairy112927
Rhea111118
Cheatham106011
Cocke105814
Campbell103012
Bledsoe10174
Smith99113
Lake9853
Giles96936
Fentress91611
Lincoln8973
Crockett86820
Hickman80315
Henry79611
Marion7739
Chester73214
DeKalb73217
Decatur66311
Grainger6114
Grundy57011
Union5433
Claiborne5266
Polk51113
Jackson4525
Humphreys4504
Morgan4437
Houston42017
Benton4199
Unicoi4183
Cannon4152
Clay40613
Lewis4033
Scott3845
Sequatchie3462
Stewart33111
Meigs3276
Perry3082
Pickett2747
Moore2692
Van Buren2071
Hancock1193

Community Events