So a North Alabama sheriff took $150,000 out of the jail inmate's food account and dumped it in a skeezy investment in a used car lot that:
Was owned by a felon and;
Peddled in stolen vehicles and;
Is not something you'd want your sheriff anywhere near. Not without a warrant.
Oh, Alabama. Why do you do what you do?
The state is left with a veritable plethora of questions. Not the least of which is ... What did the Sheriff of Nottingham have that Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin doesn't.
Not a whole heckuva lot, as it turns out.
Stealing from the rich to feed the poor is definitely not the issue here. It's the reverse, all across the lovely land of Alabama. It's robbing hoods to feed the greedy sheriffs. Not in ham, mind you, but in cheese. Good ol' green, fungible cheese.
The whole Franklin thing smells worse than the stuff she feeds her inmates. Especially because, as AL.com's Ashley Remkus has followed in somewhat shocking detail, the head law enforcement officer of Morgan County decided she was simply above the law.
Morgan County - with a history of inmate food profiteering - was under a consent decree when she took office. A federal judge had made it clear, because of a previous sheriff's appetite for cold hard cash, that it couldn't just keep feeding inmates nothing but corn dogs, and ordered every cent of money meant for inmate food be spent on food for inmates.
And not on the old sheriff or this new one. Or her cockamamie investments.
Ana FranklinMorgan County Sheriff's Office
The thing is - the Decatur Daily reported this from the start - Franklin got legal advice before she even took office that said she had to use the food money for food. And she chose to ignore it.
She chose to get a second opinion. And now she's fighting to find out whether she'll be held in contempt.
In contempt of court, that is.
Because she's already held in contempt by me, for what that's worth. She ought to be held in contempt by the good voters of Morgan County, my sweet childhood home.
She's even argued that she invested in the car lot to recoup $21,000 lost from the food account, which makes about as much sense as, well, investing more food money in a sketchy car lot.
But the imperfection of some contemptuous Alabama sheriff is not even the big question for Alabamians who want to see their state as decent. It's not the issue for those who dream of an Alabama that is more than an illegal dumping ground for corruption and ineptitude.
A judge should not find Sheriff Ana Franklin in contempt for violating the consent decree if the court decides to terminate the provision, her attorney argues.
They can keep it, as a supplement to their pay. So the worst among them find the cheapest way to meet the bare nutritional demands demanded by the federal government - an endless supply of corn dogs is not good enough - and pocket the rest.
It's like going to your mechanic and saying "Hey, here's a hundred bucks. Make my car safe and keep the change."
It's like going to the doc and saying "Hey, here's a grand. Do what you need to do, but keep the change."
It incentivizes inhumanity, disregards decency and encourages corruption. And it is-- in many counties -- alarmingly legal.