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Morgan set to get federal inmates
County authorizes sheriff to sign pact

By Sheryl Marsh 340-2437

Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett will sign an agreement to house federal prisoners.

The arrangement will put more than $500,000 in county coffers to help pay for the $23 million jail, and the sheriff will get an equal amount to operate his department.

The County Commission on Tuesday authorized Bartlett to sign the three-year agreement with the federal government.

Bartlett will receive $40 per day for each inmate and $3 of each allotment will feed the prisoners, he said.

The state pays $1.75 per inmate per day and sheriffs may lawfully keep any money left after feeding the prisoners.

The state law is applicable when sheriffs house federal inmates, and last week Bartlett said he would "abide by state law," meaning he can choose to pocket some of the food money.

Other sheriffs in the state, including Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, receive leftover money from feeding inmates.

Bartlett made about $104,000 in a two-year period from feeding inmates.

In addition to the $40 fee, the federal government will pay the sheriff $15 per hour for deputies who transport inmates to other facilities like courthouses.

The agreement shows that the sheriff will split half of the money with the commission.

The sheriff will spend his half on equipment, training and salaries for his department. The commission's half will go to a special fund for bond payments on the jail, according to a resolution the commission adopted.

"It's a win-win situation," said District 3 Commissioner Kevin Murphy.

Bartlett said he plans initially to house 20 inmates. Subsequently, he said, his agreement with the government is to house federal prisoners based upon available space.

Bartlett said the federal government will pay for medical care for its inmates

"They send a medical card with the inmates, and if one has to go to the hospital, we would use the card and the bill goes directly to the federal government," Bartlett said.

The jail will mainly be a holding facility for federal inmates who are going to court. Bartlett said federal authorities like the fact that Decatur is close to Huntsville, where many federal trials are held.

Bartlett said he didn't know the exact date when he will begin receiving federal inmates.

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