A Little Honest Graft In Alabama’s Jails
According to a May 17,2008 AP article, Alabama’s county sheriffs are are given $1.75 per day to feed a prisoner – and are allowed to pocket the difference, if they can do it cheaper.
The report says “critics charge that Alabama, in effect, is paying law enforcement to skimp on food and might be rewarding sheriffs for mistreating prisoners. “It’s a bad system, and it ought not be that way,” said Buddy Sharpless, executive director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.
I don’t understand the negative reaction to the fact that Alabama’s county sheriffs are allowed to profit by, in my opinion participating in what amounts to legal graft, by scrimping on food for prisoners. (Alabama jails bank on cheap meals – Law allows sheriffs to pocket leftover food allowance, AP May 17, 2008)
What’s the big deal? Isn’t this exactly what private prisons do? While condemning the practice by county sheriffs, I’m sure Mr. Sharpless would listen attentively to executives from Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) making their pitch to privatize public jails and prisons.
CCA claims to save states and counties money by negotiating a per-head fee for housing and feeding prisoners. They profit by pocketing the difference between what they spend and what they charge the taxpayers. Contracting-out public services had been a gold mine for ARAMARK, too. In addition to prisons, ARAMARK also turns a tidy profit feeding children attending public schools.
I agree with Mr. Sharpless opinion, “It’s a bad system, and it ought not be that way.” As a taxpayer I want to know my dollars are going to provide public services, not lining the pockets of CCA and ARAMARK.