County may have inmate feeding act by April

By ED HOWELL
Posted 2/14/19

The Walker County Commission was told it might have clarification under a new state act by April for how the feeding of inmates at the Walker County Jail would be funded. At a commission work …

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County may have inmate feeding act by April

Posted

The Walker County Commission was told it might have clarification under a new state act by April for how the feeding of inmates at the Walker County Jail would be funded. 

At a commission work session Monday, District 1 Commissioner Keith Davis noted a bill will be introduced at the 2019 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature, which starts March 5.

The bill will deal with the feeding of jail inmates, according to Davis, who is on the Legislation Committee for the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.

"Not that sheriffs won't be able to continue to feed the inmates, of course, but clarification on the depositing of the funds," Davis said. "I think the governor passed an executive order stating the county could have an account, so the sheriff could establish the funds in an account and not have to keep up with it or take out personal funds."

The association and the Alabama Sheriff's Association have been in discussions on how the bill should be drafted, he said. Davis predicted legislation could be passed by April which will guide the county in how to go forward in feeding inmates.

The county had discussed shifting more responsibility in feeding the prisoners to the Walker County sheriff, but Davis noted that the new sheriff, Nick Smith, has had much to oversee in transition since being sworn into office last month. 

"Giving him a little extra time is wise," Davis said. "He is completely in agreement to take over this program." 

However, he said details need to be worked out in establishing where the initial funds will come from to set it up. "Can that be county funds? In the previous past, the sheriff would have to take out personal funds. He was charged at the end of the year" and would have to deal with tax records, he said.  

If the sheriff takes over the inmate feeding program, it would result in a $200,000 savings for taxpayers, Davis said. 

Davis said $195,000 was budgeted for six months, to the end of March, for feeding under the previous method. Davis said the budget could be formally amended for another month or two into the third quarter before Smith could take over under clarification through a new state act.