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Gov. Ivey: Jail food funds can't go into sheriffs' pockets

(Governor's Office)

Update:

Two advocacy groups have sued 49 Alabama sheriffs to gain access to jail food records. Frank Knaack with Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice in Montgomery says the governor's action is a good first step to "reign in abuse." But he says a host of issues triggered by what he calls "perverse incentives," must still be addressed.

In March, then Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin addressed criticism about the policy. News media reports that he pocketed $750,000 in leftover jail food money over three years touched off a wave of controversy.

Entrekin said he did nothing illegal and that he fed inmates balanced meals. He added, "at the end of the day if you make a profit, it's yours." Entrekin lost his re-election bid in the primary.

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says the state will no longer give jail food funds to "sheriffs personally" in the wake of criticism that some sheriffs profited large sums by skimping on meals.

In a Tuesday memo to the state comptroller, Ivey rescinded the state's 2008 policy of "paying prisoner food service allowances directly to sheriffs in their personal capacities." The directive said the money must go to government accounts.

A Depression-era law gives sheriffs $1.75 a day to feed each prisoner and allowed sheriffs to retain leftovers. Critics argued for decades that gives incentive to feed inmates poorly

Ivey's legal office cited a 2011 attorney general's opinion that funds can only be used for "feeding prisoners." The office said that trumped a 2008 opinion that set up the previous policy.

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