Thursday, February 14, 2019

Alabama sheriffs' tendency to steal jail-food funds and boost their own bottom lines can leave inmates with health concerns that last long after they are released

A food tray from the Etowah County (AL) Jail

We invite you to check out the photo above of a food tray from the jail in Etowah County, Alabama. I spent five months -- from Oct. 23, 2013 to March 26, 2014 -- in the Shelby County (AL) Jail, and the tray of food above looks a lot like what we tended to have there.

Since my release, we've seen widespread reports of Alabama sheriffs taking funds intended for inmate food and using them for personal expenses and projects -- such as beach houses, in the case of former Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin, who lost his re-election bid and stepped down last month.

Exposure to Alabama jail food can be dangerous -- both due to its sparse quantity and its dreadful quality. I have reason to worry about the impact it has had on my own health.

As for Todd Entrekin -- the poster boy for Alabama sheriff corruption -- he is not the only one to essentially starve inmates, so that his personal bottom line would benefit. Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson recently sued outgoing Sheriff Ana Franklin, alleging she used inmate-food funds to pay her legal expenses from battling corruption charges.

That's not the only food-related scam involving Alabama sheriffs. I have little doubt a normal-sized adult could starve in an Alabama jail; I lost 15-25 pounds in five months -- and not being a picky eater, I usually cleaned my plate, what little was on it. As you can see from the photo above, there wasn't much on it much of the time.

Also, you can check out my mugshot (below, left) from the night I entered the Shelby County Jail and another (bottom) after I spent about a week at the Jefferson County Jail, which was near the end of my overall five-month incarceration. You can see that the fullness in my face is pretty much gone, and my shoulders look shrunken. Do people suffer in jail? Can this kind of weight loss under the extreme stress of false criminal charges affect a person's health down the road?I think the answer is obvious, and something close to starvation is not out of the question.

In order to survive, many inmates while I was in jail would have family put money in an account for the "store" or "commissary" and use that for snacks. The Morgan County Whistleblower blog has reported on this double-dipping scam, and we borrowed from their commentary in a recent Legal Schnauzer post:

. . . as you walk into the doors of the jail you immediately have access to two machines, the first is so you can put money into their account so they can buy items from the jail including food. This seems like a racket to me; first, you don’t feed them adequately and then sell them overpriced food all the while getting rich off leftover jail food money. Next to the first money machine is another money machine to put money into an account so they can use the phones.

We will not address the jail-phone scam for now. But there is an element to the jail-food scam that you likely would only know if you have been in an Alabama jail -- as I have. And it goes beyond quantity of food and isn't even seen on a tray.

Roger Shuler Mugshot No. 1
The choices on an Alabama jail "commissary" list are a nutritional nightmare. While the regular meal trays are filled with food that appears to be extremely starchy, high in carbs and sodium, the "store" list contains almost all junk food. And by junk food, I mean sweets -- as in snack cakes and pies, candy, etc.

Up until the night I was "arrested for blogging," I had been fortunate to enjoy pretty good health -- and so had my wife, Carol. But I'm not so sure that is still the case. Having been exposed to jail food for five months -- not to mention a wrongful foreclosure in Alabama, an unlawful eviction in Missouri (plus the accompanying financial stress), and the emotional strain of watching Missouri cops beat Carol and break her arm, then bring bogus "assault" charges against her, the victim of an assault -- I suspect one or two of my key health numbers are outside the normal range now. I know Carol has at least one key number that no longer is within normal.

Having someone cheated out of his job and health insurance, along with his freedom and the roof over his head, can come with health consequences for the victim and his spouse. That's one of many reasons why it is a stupid thing to do.

If we wind up with a negative health event, or dealing with a chronic, life-altering illness -- all because Alabama political thugs did not like the content of my blog -- someone is going to have hell to pay. There will be major legal liability, and we intend to make sure that dealing with that is going to be painful.

(Note: Legal Schnauzer needs your help. Loyal readers have sustained this blog for years, and support is urgently needed now that my wife, Carol, is recovering from a fainting spell, which led to a recent broken arm. The healing process is going well for Carol, but statements from her doctors indicate this likely was fallout from political thugs cheating both of us out of our jobs [and health insurance] in Birmingham -- and the stress of dealing with financial wreckage that comes from being targeted for right-wing attacks. If you are able to help along our journalism journey, please click on the yellow donate button in the upper right corner of the blog, under the "Support the Schnauzer" headline. We are deeply grateful for your support through the years.)

Roger Shuler Mugshot No. 2


Anonymous said...

I'd have a hard time getting by on those rations for very long.

Chuckles said...

Hey, what's the problem with a little starvation if it means the sheriff can have a nice beach house?

Anonymous said...

Alabama's a corrupt hellhole, but it can't be the only state where this kind of crap happens.

Slapout said...

I'm sure Rob Riley and Liberty Duke were terribly worried that you might starve to death, thanks to their little courtroom charade. Hope you can roast those roaches in court at some point.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you did lost weight while in jail. I had not seen that second photo before.

legalschnauzer said...

@12:06 --

Yes, the second one has been out there for a while. There might be a third one, but I'm not sure. Seems I saw one of me in a green shirt, and it also was taken close time of release. But I might be imagining that.

Anonymous said...

Wow, it looks like your head shrunk in jail.

legalschnauzer said...

Some might say my brain shrunk, too.

It's possible having jail haircuts might have contributed to the shrunken-head look. You haven't lived until you've had a jail haircut.

Anonymous said...

That porridge, or whatever it's supposed to be, sure looks yummy on the tray.

legalschnauzer said...

@3:10 --

I think that's the jail version of cream of wheat. We had that in Shelby Co., and boiled eggs were a big item. There was always a lot of food swapping at meal time among he inmates. One thing I learned: Inmates prepare the jail food, so that's another way sheriffs save money. They get free labor and don't have to hire outside kitchen help.

One downside of that: I had one inmate tell me he had hepatitis C, and he wound up working kitchen duty. Always made me think a time or two before diving into my meal.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing the plastic spoon and the jelly wrapper taste better than anything else on the tray.

e.a.f. said...

There really needs to be an over haul of the jail system in Alabama and many of the other states. To have these jails under the authority of the sheriff, in my opinion, is a conflict of interest.
However, given the structure of communities, it seems sheriffs have jails and policing authority. Weird. might have been a "good" idea back in the day, but in modern times, not so much. Its a waste of tax payer's money to duplicate all these services in very little town. Of course its easier to steal if you're sheriff.

Lets hope the ACLU picks this up and files a law suite on behalf of inmates, past and present. Many of the prisoners haven't even been found guilty, yet they are being punished, by starvation.

legalschnauzer said...

e.a.f. --

Boy, conflict of interest is right. The more arrests the sheriff's deputies make, the more people they toss in jail (often without being convicted of anything), the more he and his department makes. No wonder the U.S. system is so crooked.

Robby Scott Hill said...

Looks like my “bag nasty” from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Paris Island, minus the brown paper bag, can of Coca Cola & Snickers Bar. Even Marine Recruits in the middle of boot camp get a candy bar & a soda to keep them from going nuts on the rifle range & shooting someone. Maybe fewer guards would get “shanked” in jail if the prisoners had a better selection of food & an occasional piece of candy.

Thomas S. Bean said...

The stupidity, selfishness, and chicanery exhibited by all the superstar, grandstanding, hotdog, tough guy, public a historical ontological force of darkness that has prevailed whenever a slob grabs for power over others.

The incompetence of Gov operations is multiplied by secrecy and cronyistic self interest.

Oversight begins when Gov actors are ruthlessly interrogated and investigated for all their obvious failings: and that is NOT allowed. Some pigs are just more equal than others.

Some special superstars, don't have to comply with rules, orders, commands, etc.

They are.......just too special to bother with living like everyone else.

Gov service is always "self service" and delusional grandiose hypocrisy on top of selfishness: PROJECTION and DISPLACEMENT as a way of protecting the status quo of an unsublimated personality.

The Drug War has never been won...........after Nixon's DEA was created to go after the new left for marijuana smoking????????