Don’t Let Alabama Sheriffs Malnourish Their Prisoners for a Profit

Target: Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

Goal: Don’t allow sheriffs to pocket money remaining after feeding prisoners

Alabama state law currently allows state sheriffs to take money left over after paying for prisoners’ food needs as personal income. This policy is unnecessary and poses a grave risk of abuse by individual sheriffs.

State funding for feeding Alabama’s prisoners is distributed from the state to each of the dozens of state sheriffs; once they receive the funding, these sheriffs are tasked with distributing it to the prisons as they see fit. These sheriffs have a great deal of latitude in choosing which foods and suppliers are utilized in order to feed the prisoners within their jurisdiction. Once the sheriffs believe that they have provided adequate food to their imprisoned population, they are legally allowed to take the remaining funds as personal income.

While some sheriffs are not swayed by the financial incentive to provide those under their care with inferior food, the potential for corruption is ever-present. Giving anybody financial incentives and legal justifications for mistreating those in their care is rarely a good policy, and this case is no exception. Sheriffs have the option of giving less or inferior food to those under their care, and will suffer no real legal consequences for their actions unless they are overtly negligent.

Providing inferior or less food to inmates compromises their health and makes them harder to deal with. Hungry prisoners, as well as those suffering from malnutrition, are more prone to get sick and cost much more to house than those who are fed properly.  In addition to this, hungry prisoners (like all hungry people) tend to be more difficult to interact with and are more likely to get into fights with each other and those guarding them.

Sign this petition demand that Governor Robert Bentley begin the process of fixing the terrible conflict of interests currently facing Alabama sheriffs. It is bad policy, immoral, and corrupting to give those in power a financial incentive to mistreat people who are forced to be in their care.


Dear Governor Robert Bentley,

Alabama state sheriffs experience serious conflicts of interests when it comes to their provisions of food to prisoners. Current state laws task local sheriffs with the duty of managing and providing food to the inmates living under their jurisdiction; while this situation is not unusual nor does it breed corruption, the fact that they get to pocket any spare money is both unusual and corrupting.

After sheriffs provide their inmates with food, they are allowed to take any leftover money as personal income. If the sheriffs buy low-quality, inexpensive, food or simply feed their prisoners less, they are able to reap a significant personal profit. Because sheriffs are given a disincentive to providing expensive (and healthier) food, they are far more likely to provide prisoners with inferior (and cheaper) food.

It has been shown that hungry inmates are more prone to illness and are far more irritable than properly taken care of inmates. Inmates, like anybody else, get harder to manage and more anti-social as they become hungrier, thus there are very real effects to your state’s food policy.

I, as well as everybody else to sign this petition, implore you to begin the process of repealing the law which creates the conflict of interests for sheriffs. Remove any potential for corruption and conflicts of interest by giving financial control over state prisoners’ food to a party without financial stake in ensuring that they get less food.


[Your Name Here]

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80 Signatures

  • Lynn Juozilaitis
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