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Alabama Sheriff Charged With Raiding Jail Food Fund

Mobile County, Alabama, Sheriff Jack Tilman has been charged with theft and violation of the public officials ethical laws for allegedly taking for personal use funds allocated by the state to feed jail prisoners.

Alabama paid Tilman $1.75 per day to feed the prisoners in the Mobile Metro Jail. Tilman spent an average of $1.45 a day. He allowed the excess to accumulate. It eventually became several hundred thousand dollars Tilman then deposited some of the funds in a personal CD and a retirement account. Tilman maintains that state law authorized him to retain the excess funds. In addition to the criminal charges, the Mobile County district attorneys office filed a civil suit against Tilman seeking recovery of the surplus funds.

Meanwhile, the county has been unable to duplicate Tilmans food budget. In FY 2004, it spent an average $2.64 per day per prisoner for food. In FY 2005, it trimmed the amount to $2.27. Thus, the county has been forced to pay the difference between the amount allocated by the state and the amount actually spent--$1.1 million thus far. The county has also hired a consultant to analyze the jails food preparation and purchasing. On December 12, 2005, the county commissioners voted to solicit bids for feeding the 1,400 prisoners in the jail and associated minimum-security barracks from private jail food preparation companies. No one seems to be asking whether the $1.45-per-day food provided by Tilman was constitutionally or nutritionally adequate. Also unasked was whether Tilman skimped on the prisoners food because he intended to raid the surplus funds all along.

Source: Mobile Register.

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