This has risen to the level of a very public disgrace, and now the governor has put a stop to the practice, at least until the Sheriffs get a court injunction to continue to take taxpayer money in the service of cruelty:
Alabama’s governor has begun to cut off a gravy train for the state’s sheriffs: the unspent money for prisoners’ meals that the sheriffs have long been allowed to keep for themselves.
The practice, born of a bickered-over ambiguity in a state law, has let sheriffs pocket tax dollars that over the decades almost certainly ran into the millions. To curtail the practice, Gov. Kay Ivey ordered in a memorandum to the state comptroller that payments of certain funds related to jail food “no longer be made to the sheriffs personally.” Instead, the governor wrote, the money must be paid to county general funds or official accounts.
“Public funds should be used for public purposes,” Ms. Ivey, a Republican, said in a statement on Wednesday. “It’s that simple.”
Critics of the practice welcomed the governor’s action on Wednesday but said it resolved only part of the problem because it did not apply to every type of payment related to jail food.
Even so, the move is sure to infuriate sheriffs in at least some of Alabama’s 67 counties, and the governor’s order may be tested in the courts. Economic disclosure forms filed by sheriffs suggest that many do not take the leftover money, sometimes because of local laws. But some do: Records show that the sheriff in Etowah County, in northeast Alabama, for example, has taken more than $670,000 in recent years.
Right now politicians in Mississippi, Florida, and Texas are thinking, “Yes! For once it’s not us held up for ridicule!”