A physical altercation broke out during a shakedown at the Marshall County jail this morning, prompting the sheriff to call for backup from all local law enforcement.
A group of inmates "physically engaged" deputies and jail staff during the cell search, said Heath Thomas, a spokesman for Marshall County Sheriff Scott Walls.
"During the conflict neither law enforcement officers nor inmates were injured," Thomas said in an afternoon news release. "We are currently in the process of searching and securing each prisoner back into cells."
In the news release, the sheriff said he's having trouble retaining jail staff because of low starting pay. He said he has repeatedly been denied additional funding to raise the pay. He blamed County Commission Chairman James Hutcheson.
Blogger Comments: Well! Here we go again. Blame the County Commission. You Sheriff Walls are responsible for including pay increases in your budget. Did you? By the way how much money did you take from the inmate food funds?
"At the last commission meeting, the commission chose to defund a jail supervisor position," the sheriff's news release states. "We are hopeful that this is an eye opener for county commission and that maybe he will help us find a resolution."
Blogger Comments: What did you say your warden is responsible for? How have you documented and provided proof of your jail needs? The eye opener is clear. These sheriffs are voted into office, sat back and drank coffee, and politic for reelection. Walls is no first term sheriff. He knows the ropes. Walls has four terms under his belt. If he doesn't know the ropes by now he will never get it. By the way! Sheriff Walls lost his bid for reelection. We have no sympathy for any of the sheriff's that took inmate food funds with no accountability to the public. The question is what else is hidden within the walls of the Marshall County Sheriffs Office.
Hutcheson said there are 20 positions funded in the jail. He said the sheriff has failed to hire people to fill 10 of those.
Blogger Comments: We rest our case. You have half of the numbers you need to staff your jail. Show the proof you submitted to the commission adequate reasons why you have not staffed the jail adequately. Show the people your efforts to maintain pay raises for your employees.
"That was very offensive," he told AL. in response to sheriff's comments about the commission made in the news release.
A study is conducted every seven years to determine county worker salaries. Most recently, in 2015, Jacksonville State University conducted a study. Their recommendations were approved by the county personnel board and final approval was given by the commission, Hutcheson told AL.com.
Walls said because of prison reform in Alabama during the past few years, more state inmates are being housed in county jail.
Blogger Comments: Get real, Walls. Most of you sheriffs want those state inmates. That means more money in the inmate food funds. So! Tell us Sheriff Walls how much inmate food funds have you taken over the years.
"All across Alabama and this country, jails are having more violence against staff, which is suffering from low pay which results in contraband being introduced by corrections officers in some cases," he said. A jailer was arrested earlier this week and accused of providing a contraband cellphone to an inmate.
The sheriff additionally said inaccurate news reporting can contribute to situations like what happened today.
Blogger Comments: Sheriff Walls sounds like Sheriff Ana Franklin. Its everybody's fault but the sheriff. This is what happens when you give Alabama sheriffs all the power in the state with no oversight. We have a lot of good sheriffs in Alabama but we need to weed out the sheriffs that have shown no responsibility or respect to their positions they have been entrusted to serve with honor and dignity.
The jail and sheriff were the subjects of a story by AL.com news partner WHNT News-19 on Tuesday night. The TV station aired video that reportedly was filmed inside the jail and showed inmates smoking and more.
AL.com journalist Anna Beahm contributed to this report.