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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

We can only imagine - 49 Sheriffs plus 1 - Secrecy Indeed

Folks, we can only imagine how the public will react when the 49 sheriffs plus one (Ana Franklin) are forced to release their inmate food fund statements to the Decatur Daily, citizens, and by order of a judge.  We are not attorneys but as we have said time and time again on the blog these records are public records.  We have posted the sections of the law before but here we go again.  The records that have been requested by the media, me, you or any other citizen are releasable information.  Explicitly the Alabama Code Title 14. Criminal Correctional and Detention Facilities § 14-6-42 states that "Food for prisoners in the county jail shall be paid for by the state".  We have another question if none of this information is releasable then why did Billable Barney provide three copies of sheriffs office quick books accounts to us in 2014?  Not that we believed what we saw because it wasn't actually "bank records".   To get the real truth it will take getting the "real bank records".  The sheriffs do not want the public to gain access to those records.  

Whoever is funding the attorney fees for these 50 sheriffs are going to make a killing off of an issue that is not "unfortunate" it's just downright stupid.  Sounds like some lobbyist group or other organization has more money than brains.  At some point, this craziness called Alabama Sheriffs taking inmate food funds that don't belong to them will end.  


Editorial: Sheriff's secrecy an affront to public

  • Updated 

THE ISSUE

There may be arguments about whether sheriffs are entitled to keep leftover inmate-food money as compensation, but there is no valid argument that records concerning these taxpayer funds should be hidden from the public.  WMorgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin, through her lawyer, last week joined 49 other Alabama sheriffs in taking the position that she has a right to hide information on the disposition of taxpayer funds from the public. The argument is an affront to her constituents.
Morgan County long has been at the center of a statewide debate over whether an antiquated statute allows sheriffs to personally keep unspent money designated for feeding jail inmates. The statute in question states that sheriffs “shall be entitled to keep and retain … amounts received for feeding prisoners.” A lone 2008 attorney general’s opinion has interpreted this language as meaning that sheriffs can keep any money left over after feeding inmates as supplemental compensation. Attorney generals’ opinions in 2000 and 2011 came to the more sensible conclusion that sheriffs’ offices, not sheriffs personally, can keep and retain any excess money. The governor and state comptroller recently have spoken out against a system that incentivizes sheriffs to underfeed their inmates.
While there may be an argument that the law is properly interpreted as providing sheriffs with a salary supplement, sheriffs should not use that argument as a cloak to hide information from the public on the use of public funds.On May 21, according to a warrant produced by the state comptroller, Franklin deposited $19,708.50 into a Peoples Bank of Alabama account labeled “Morgan County Sheriff’s Food Account.” The Decatur Daily requested bank statements relating to the account.
“Unfortunately, documents reflecting the use of these funds are not public records and would therefore not be subject to a public records request,” her lawyer responded.
His response mimics the response of 49 sheriffs who refused to produce records on inmate-food accounts in response to a request from Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and the Southern Center for Human Rights. The convoluted argument unashamedly asserts the proposition that even though a sheriff’s salary is a public record, the compensation he or she receives from taxpayer funds designated as food money is not.
However weak the legal argument is that records on such funds are not public, the ethical argument is weaker.
No law prevents Sheriff Franklin or other sheriffs from being transparent in the handling of these taxpayer funds. Her lawyer’s use of the word “unfortunately” as a preface to refusing to produce the records is disingenuous. If the sheriff believes it to be unfortunate that state law does not require her to produce such records, she can easily remedy that problem by producing them.  If the sheriff is personally keeping taxpayer money designated for the feeding of inmates, she has an obligation to her constituents to reveal how much. This is true of all sheriffs, but especially of the sheriff of Morgan County.
Since 2009, when former Sheriff Greg Bartlett ended up in jail after keeping $212,000 in taxpayer money while underfeeding inmates, Morgan County has been the embarrassing center of the statewide dispute. Sheriff Franklin continued this trend in 2015 when she converted $160,000 in inmate-food money to personal use, in violation of the court order prompted by Bartlett.
In Morgan County and elsewhere, the inevitable result of secrecy is corruption. Instead of focusing on whether her lawyers can find a legal justification for hiding information from the public, Sheriff Franklin should be focused on being transparent to the public she is sworn to serve.

Food for prisoners in the county jail shall be paid for by the state as follows: There shall be allowed such amount as is actually necessary for food for each prisoner daily, and said amount so allowed shall be $1.75 per capita. In addition to the above amount, there is hereby conditionally appropriated from the General Fund an amount of $1.25 per capita.


Alabama Code Title 36. Public Officers and Employees § 36-12-40 

Every citizen has a right to inspect and take a copy of any public writing of this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by statute. Provided however, registration and circulation records and information concerning the use of the public, public school or college and university libraries of this state shall be exempted from this section. Provided further, any parent of a minor child shall have the right to inspect the registration and circulation records of any school or public library that pertain to his or her child. Notwithstanding the foregoing, records concerning security plans, procedures, assessments, measures, or systems, and any other records relating to, or having an impact upon, the security or safety of persons, structures, facilities, or other infrastructures, including without limitation information concerning critical infrastructure (as defined at 42 U.S.C. § 5195c(e) as amended) and critical energy infrastructure information (as defined at 18 C.F.R. § 388.113(c)(1) as amended) the public disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to be detrimental to the public safety or welfare, and records the disclosure of which would otherwise be detrimental to the best interests of the public shall be exempted from this section. Any public officer who receives a request for records that may appear to relate to critical infrastructure or critical energy infrastructure information, shall notify the owner of such infrastructure in writing of the request and provide the owner an opportunity to comment on the request and on the threats to public safety or welfare that could reasonably be expected from public disclosure on the records.

Alabama Code Title 36. Public Officers and Employees § 36-12-41

Every public officer having the custody of a public writing which a citizen has a right to inspect is bound to give him, on demand, a certified copy of it, on payment of the legal fees therefor, and such copy is admissible as evidence in like cases and with like effect as the original writing.

11 comments:

  1. Look's like Ana is the big 50. Fifty sheriffs in the state of Alabama have taken no not taken they have stolen inmate food money. Shame.

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  2. Looks like she done messed it up for all them boys.
    Lil dummy she is.
    I just cant wait untill we make Morgan Co great again.

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  3. Most deputies would be blessed to pay all their bills. These sheriffs are building mansions on taxpayers funds

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  4. She can hold a press conference on defending bones for shooting aubie...why can't she hold one on inmate food funds...lack of transparent. Why she isn't resigning. We as taxpayers pay her to work and she isn't. How about sarahland.

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  5. This mess is going to to viral.Ana will be a star for starting the unraveling of all the corruption of Sheriffs inn Alabama


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  6. People in our little town too scared....they are like church mice...I ain't seen nothing...I ain't done nothing. As long as I can get to Dollar General I'm good.

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    1. I dont know why some folks would still be so scared for? Most the Deputies that were ever worth a shit have done left to work in other Departments or Agency's.
      Whats left are a bunch of but kissin sissies.
      I've never seen such a bullshit Department.

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    2. Billy Bob I am sorry you lived a poor privileged life. Alamaba is racist as fuck.

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    3. I am assistant manager for Dollar General

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