Jail Food Facts: A Commentary By Sheriff Matt Gentry

by | Jan 13, 2018 | Breaking News, County News, Cullman, Our Take

Jail Food Facts: A Commentary By Sheriff Matt Gentry

This commentary is written by Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry in response to a recent lawsuit filed by liberal activist citizen groups hellbent on busting Alabama Sheriffs – including Gentry – for attempting to navigate a statute in the Alabama Code that puts excess jail food money into the personal accounts of the State’s top county lawmen.

Gentry has long been in favor of a change in that law:

On Friday, January 5, 2018, two groups, the Southern Center for Human Rights, and the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, filed a lawsuit in state court.

This lawsuit, which asserts allegations surrounding what is commonly known as the “jail food money,” involves 49 Alabama sheriffs.

Under a 1939 Alabama law, sheriffs are able to keep any excess money not spent on jail food. I stated when I ran for sheriff in 2014 that I did not agree with this law then and I continue to say today I disagree with this law.

I said on many occasions during the 2014 campaign that I would run the Jail Food Account differently and I would also try to get this law changed so that we have a different system to operate under and that is what we have done.

First, as sheriff, we fed over 4,500 individuals in the county at community events over the last three years such as neighborhood watch(es), community meetings, senior citizens meetings, veterans groups, church groups, and many others, which all function as a way to bring our communities, county and sheriff’s office together.

Second, I am continuing to work with our local legislative delegation; Senator Paul Bussman, Rep. Corey Harbison, Rep. Randall Shedd, and Rep. Ed. Henry for a local bill. A local bill, if passed, would apply to Cullman County as other counties have done and remove the Jail Food from being a personal account from the sheriff.

I hope we can place the local amendment on the ballot in 2018.

Third, I have always had an open-door policy and anytime citizens need to speak with me I try to always be available.

I have also spoken to thousands of citizens during my time as sheriff about the jail food issue whether they were in the Cullman County Sheriff’s Citizens’ Academy, touring the jail with a college, high school or part of the court system, or at an event I spoke (at).

As (the) political season approaches I ask the citizens of Cullman County not to believe the outside groups who parachute in, sue, and throw around accusations. I hope people will call me, email me or come to my office with any questions.

Matt Gentry
Cullman County

Jail Food Facts: A Commentary By Sheriff Matt Gentry

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The staff writers at Cullman Today are a collaborative group of citizen reporters sharing the writing of stories based upon their personal interests and work schedules.

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