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Sheriff: Food cost topped income
Lawrence County’s Mitchell says he spent more than he got to feed inmates

By Kristen Bishop · 340-2443

MOULTON — Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell spent more than he received to feed inmates in the county jail for the first four months he was in office, he said.

Mitchell’s secretary released the information Tuesday following accusations that the sheriff was starving the inmates. A man made the charge during Monday’s County Commission meeting.

Wallace Graham, the former campaign manager of Phil Kaylor, who ran against Mitchell in the Democratic primary last year, said inmates at the jail told him they weren’t getting enough to eat. He gave commissioners a copy of what he said an inmate told him they had been fed for a week in June.

Graham said Monday that he did not have any personal connections with inmates but he admitted Tuesday that his girlfriend’s son, Timothy Lipscomb, is in Lawrence County Jail awaiting trial on charges of sodomy, burglary and kidnapping. He also said he had “friends” in the jail that he hired through the jail’s work-release program.

On Monday, Graham described himself to The Daily as a volunteer who took food to jail on holidays with inmates’ mothers.

Following Monday’s meeting, he told The Daily that an inmate working in the kitchen, whom Graham did not identify, said the sheriff was only spending 42 cents a day per inmate on meals.

But, according to information provided by Mitchell’s secretary, Patricia Shelton, the sheriff has spent more than the allotted $1.75, the amount the sheriff gets per day per inmate from the state to feed prisoners.

From the time he took office in January through May 1, Mitchell received $12,566 from the state to feed inmates but spent $13,186.

He said he would have gone way over the provided amount had he not shopped for bargains.

“If we get a deal from one company this week, we’ll go there,” said Mitchell. “If not, we’ll look somewhere else. That’s what all jails are having to do.”

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