Criminal Justice

Sheriff Who Pocketed $212K by Providing Skimpy Prisoner Meals is Tossed in Jail

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A federal judge has ordered the jailing of an Alabama sheriff for violating a 2001 court order requiring adequate meals for inmates.

The sheriff, Greg Bartlett of Morgan County, testified he was able to personally pocket $212,000 in surplus meal money over the last three years under an unusual state system, report the Associated Press and News Channel 19. The law pays sheriffs $1.75 per day for each prisoner they jail and allows them to keep any money that isn’t spent on meals, the AP story says.

U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon said Morgan would remain jailed until he devises a plan to adequately feed 300 inmates, the story says. The Decatur Daily posted the judge’s order (PDF). The Southern Center for Human Rights represented the inmates.

During a hearing before Clemon, inmates testified that breakfast most days is half an egg, a spoonful of oatmeal and one piece of toast, according to the story. For lunch they often get a handful of potato chips and two sandwiches with a thin layer of peanut butter. Inmate Demetrius Hines told the judge that the peanut butter “looks like it was sprayed on with an aerosol can” and he has lost 35 pounds in five months. Other prisoners said they received corn dogs for weeks, reports

Many inmates end up buying junk food at the jailhouse store to supplement their diets.

Bartlett contended the meals were adequate and said he gets much of the inmate’s food through charitable donations.

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