News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2007


Fixing jail feeding conflict not difficult

Come on, Mr. Grantland, correcting the shamefully small amount of money spent to feed Morgan County Jail inmates isn't hard to figure out. It's the politics that's got you stymied.

State Rep. Ron Grantland, D-Hartselle, said last year that he would sponsor legislation to stop the Morgan County sheriff from pocketing the food money left over from the state's allocation of $1.75 per inmate per day.

It's legal, but it is a terrible conflict for a sheriff who knows he can feed inmates peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and make a personal, not jail, profit.

During a two-year period, Sheriff Greg Bartlett took home almost $104,000 he saved on the jail food bill. Again, that amount accumulated from the $1.75 state allocation per inmate, per day.

The solution is simple:

Pay the sheriff more than his $60,000 salary, have him feed the inmates on the state allocation and add any surplus to the county General Fund. End of conflict of interest.

Mr. Grantland says he's too busy to get the bill drafted to his satisfaction so he's inclined to wait another year. That's not a good omen because "studying the situation" is the easiest way to kill proposed legislation.

Mr. Grantland suggested a salary of $80,000 to $85,000 for the sheriff. That seems reasonable. What is not fair or reasonable is for the sheriff to rake off a handsome profit at the expense of the inmates' diet.

That practice should stop after this legislative session, not after next year's or the one after that.

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