Governor Ivey looks to lawmakers to continue push for public jail food funds


Governor Ivey is taking what she calls a small step in stopping some sheriffs from pocketing jail food money.

Ivey directed the state comptroller Tuesday to stop paying a food service allowance directly to sheriffs personal bank accounts. That's worth about $4,000 per sheriff.

"Public funds ought to be used for public purposes, not private people," Ivey said.

Each year, Alabama sheriffs are paid almost eight million dollars to feed inmates. The money goes into their pocket; any leftover becomes extra income.

It's a practice Representative Mack Butler said dates back many years.

"The optics are bad, the whole thing is bad. It's just insane that we as a legislature have not dealt with that issue," Butler said, "I would imagine after all this, next session it will be dealt with. No public official is supposed to profit."

Butler tried passing a local bill last session to change the law in Etowah County but it was too late.

Butler said he'd like to see jail food money directed to the sheriff's department. He said excess funding could be used for any other law enforcement purpose.

It's an issue Ivey hopes will gain support on both sides of the aisle come January.

"I've taken the first step, so now I want the legislature to codify and clear up the law, and make it so that public funds are used for public purposes."

Political Scientist Dr. Allen Linken said he expects a bi-partisan push to change the law. Linken said holding law enforcement accountable usually resonates with both sides.

In an election year, there will be some debate over who gets the credit.

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