News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 2006


Federal judges like parents to Alabama

Sheriff Greg Bartlett says he can operate the new Morgan County jail with 88 jailers. He says he's happy with the compromise that U.S District Judge U.W. Clemon handed down this week.

County Commissioner Stacy George says he's happy, too, after Judge Clemon ordered the jail to open three pods with the 88 jailers instead of the 102 the sheriff said was his rock-bottom number.

Mr. George prevailed upon the County Commission to approve 78.

The judge at times didn't seem happy about having to settle a political squabble that local officials should have settled. He appeared equally unhappy that a community corrections program that was part of the consent decree to settle a lawsuit that inmates filed over crowded jail conditions hasn't shown much sign of moving forward.

At one point, the judge reminded the sheriff that he shared responsibility with county commissioners for getting the program going.

That program, too, is a victim of local politics getting in the way of helping find a solution to a problem.

The County Commission discussed giving $100,000 for the program in this year's budget. Last month, with half of the fiscal year gone and no program going, it approved $50,000.

Community correction programs are part of prison reform that's designed to keep more non-violent inmates out of jail but under electronic supervision, allow some to do day work and return to lockup at night and to get treatment for those convicted on drug charges.

Hopefully, Big Daddy Clemon won't have to come back to Decatur to enforce the remainder of the decree. If he does, he might spank one or two public officials.

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