A state lawmaker is proposing legislation to stop Alabama sheriff's from being able to pocket unused jail food funds. State Senator Arthur Orr is currently drafting the legislation to present during the 2019 legislative session.
"I think it's time now that we push forward and try to get a statewide bill passed," said Senator Orr.
In Novebmer, Morgan County voters approved an amendment to the state law ending a longtime practice of sheriff's using left over jail food funds as part of their salaries. Orr said this practice is outdated and needs to end statewide which is why he's working on new legislation for the 52 of the 67 counties in Alabama that still allow sheriff's offices to pocket the extra jail funds.
"There's a lot of complex issues that you have with this particular issue. You have county commissions that don't want the responsibility. You have sheriff's that don't want to lose money and be personally responsible and liable for it."
Under the amendment that passed in Morgan County the sheriff's salary will increase and the funds to feed the inmates will be in a separate account. That's Orr's goal for the whole state. He said the public scrutiny surrounding Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin's use of the jail funds has the public watching closely.
"All of this attention statewide is really making the public realize why do we still have this very very antiquated system? It's time to change it."
On Friday, Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson filed a civil lawsuit asking for a court injunction to prevent Sheriff Ana Franklin from spending money that she is said to have taken from funds intended to go towards feeding inmates in the county jail.
Orr is working with Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice on the language of the bill.