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  1. #1
    Terminator's Avatar
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    Judge releases Ala. sheriff jailed over jail food

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. An Alabama sheriff who made $212,000 in the last three years by feeding inmates what a judge said were skimpy portions was released from prison Thursday after submitting a plan pledging to feed them better.
    Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett profited legally from a Depression-era state law that allows sheriffs to keep any money they can make by feeding inmates for less than what they receive in state funding. Bartlett said he reported the profit as income on his tax returns.
    U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon heard testimony Wednesday from Bartlett and several skinny inmates who described being forced to eat meager meals of paper-thin bologna, bloody chicken and cold grits, then paying out-of-pocket to supplement their diets with high-priced snacks from the jail's store.
    "He makes money by failing to spend the allocated funds for food for the inmates," Clemon ruled after the daylong hearing in a lawsuit filed by prisoners over jail conditions.
    Although the practice is legal under state law, the judge ordered Bartlett to remain in custody until he submitted a plan to feed prisoners meals that are "nutritionally adequate," as required by a previous agreement in the lawsuit.
    The judge ordered Bartlett's release after his lawyer submitted a plan. Its details weren't immediately made public.
    Donald Rhea, an attorney for Bartlett, said Clemon would release an order later "that will serve as a guide to dispose of the issues before the court." But he declined comment on what changes will be made in prisoners' diets or whether Bartlett would give up his profits and plow the money back into food.
    Attorneys for the Morgan County prisoners filed a motion that effectively would stop Bartlett from making a profit by requiring the sheriff to spend any money earmarked for food to be spent on prisoners' meals. They also want USDA guidelines used in planning menus and sought the firing of the jail's current nutritionist. The judge did not immediately rule.
    U.S. Marshal Marty Keely said Bartlett was freed after spending the night at a federal prison in Talladega. It wasn't immediately known what he ate while he was there.
    Sheriffs in 55 of Alabama's 67 counties operate under a system allowing them to make money operating their jail kitchens. The state pays sheriffs $1.75 a day for each prisoner they house and lets the elected officers keep any profits they can generate.
    Bartlett said he also received money from the county and the U.S. government for housing federal prisoners, and he shops for bargains and uses items like fish sticks donated by schools to turn a profit.
    According to testimony, Alabama's ethics commission cleared Bartlett of a complaint in December, turning aside allegations that he improperly used his office for personal gain by profiting from inmate meals. The ethics commission cited the state law allowing the practice and a previous legal opinion from Alabama's attorney general.
    The federal judge's order against Bartlett applies only to Morgan County, but the longtime head of the Alabama Sheriff's Association said its impact would be felt around the state because counties lack money to feed prisoners and state budgets are stretched thin.
    "It's going to be real far-reaching. It's going to affect a lot of counties other than this one," said association executive director Bobby Timmons.
    Bartlett testified he made a $212,000 profit over the last three years to supplement his annual salary of about $64,000. Bartlett said last year's profit was $95,000: almost half of the total jail feeding budget of about $203,000 for about 300 prisoners. Bartlett said profits from the jail store are used to pay for equipment and training and don't go into his pocket.
    Critics have charged that the system creates a profit incentive for sheriffs to mistreat prisoners, and Clemon said Bartlett purposely served skimpy meals to make money.
    The issue of feeding prisoners has occasionally been raised by a few state lawmakers in the past, but no serious attempt has been made to change the law making sheriffs personally responsible for feeding prisoners.
    Many sheriffs defend the current system as encouraging frugality and minimizing waste. Under the law, they get to keep any profit but also are personally liable for any losses and must defend against lawsuits filed by prisoners over jail food.
    Meanwhile, counties often are hesitant to change because many are chronically short of money and don't want the legal liability and potential cost of feeding prisoners.
    Bartlett isn't the first Alabama sheriff to get into trouble over jail food profits.
    In 2005, former Mobile County Sheriff Jack Tillman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor perjury charge and an ethics violation and resigned after being indicted on charges of putting more than $12,000 in jail food profits into a personal retirement account.

  2. #2
    IndianaFuzz's Avatar
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    If what he did was legal there, how did he get put in prison for it in the first place?
    CHIRP! CHIRP!

  3. #3
    Five-0's Avatar
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    How was he arrested? Only the coroner can arrest a Sheriff in AL.

    Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkzV5AIK8iM
    "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat

    "Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway

    The opinions given in my signatures & threads DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "Five-0" on Officerresource.com

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five-0 View Post
    How was he arrested? Only the coroner can arrest a Sheriff in AL.
    He was arrested by US Marshals.....they don't have to play by the Alabama Constitution.

    Coincidentally, this was in the same county as the narcotics sgt. that staged his dissapearance and wound up getting arrested in Vegas.

    The county that I live and work in is one of only 12 counties in Alabama that do not use this kind of system. The county pays for the meals and the sheriff doesn't get any money off of it here.

  5. #5
    Five-0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bama512 View Post
    He was arrested by US Marshals.....they don't have to play by the Alabama Constitution.

    Coincidentally, this was in the same county as the narcotics sgt. that staged his dissapearance and wound up getting arrested in Vegas.

    The county that I live and work in is one of only 12 counties in Alabama that do not use this kind of system. The county pays for the meals and the sheriff doesn't get any money off of it here.

    Wow, when it rains it pours.

    Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkzV5AIK8iM
    "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat

    "Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway

    The opinions given in my signatures & threads DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "Five-0" on Officerresource.com

 

 

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