Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In Alabama Prisons, the Less Sheriffs Spend on Food for Inmates, the More They Earn

I'm not the biggest fan of Sheriff Mike Rainey, but I'm glad he has the guts to stand up to this bad law. The gist of the story is there is an old law that says the sheriff gets X amount of dollars per day to feed an inmate and whatever is left over, they can pocket. Another sheriff was jailed a couple years back for starving inmates to pocket more money. But it was only for one day.


In Alabama Prisons, the Less Sheriffs Spend on Food for Inmates, the More They Earn

Adam Peck
Published: Tuesday 26 June 2012

It took almost three quarters of a century, but one Sheriff in Alabama is finally speaking out against a 1939 law that allows for the state’s 67 sheriffs to keep leftover money the state provides to each municipality for feeding inmates in local prisons.

Sheriff Mike Rainey reportedly received $295,294 from the local, state and federal governments to spend on food for the county’s inmate population. But thanks to the old law, Rainey is entitled to pocket any money left over after he fulfills his responsibility of feeding his inmates.

It’s not hard to imagine how such a system could lead to massive corruption. In 2009, former Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett was himself put behind bars after he admitted to keeping more than $200,000 from the prison’s food budget while the inmates he oversaw were provided with inadequate food.

Remarkably, Bartlett may not have actually broken any laws, a point the Alabama Sheriffs Association made to defend Bartlett during his trial.

Sheriff Rainey, who is calling on the legislature to end the current system in favor of allowing county commissions to oversee the funding, says he has donated most of his potential earnings to charity, upwards of $10,000 so far. He also wants to ensure that inmates are served fresh, healthy food, he told the Montgomery Advertiser:

“Incarceration is punishment. I know some people think you shouldn’t worry about what an inmate eats, but I think it’s a moral issue,” Rainey said. “They’re not getting filet mignon, but they’re certainly not being served green bologna, nor will they be served something like that.”

The Alabama legislature has tried to pass bills before repealing the 1939 law, most recently in 2009, but those bills have failed to advance to the Governor’s desk.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Quote of the week from Chris Conolly, Lauderdale County District Attorney

Chris Conolly admits the registry is punitive in the following article. For many years, Smith v. Doe, the landmark SCOTUS decision from 2003, upholds the registry as a regulation, not a punitive/criminal function, thus preventing constitutional arguments from attacking Megan's flaw. Nearly a full decade later, it is obvious Emperor Megan has no clothes.

"She will have to register as a sex offender and that's a big ticket item obviously because that's a life sentence," said Chris Conolly, Lauderdale County District Attorney. "That's the community notification; that's quarterly registration; that's restrictions about employment and where she can live so that's a huge part of this agreement."

And in case you missed it the first time,


No matter what the judge orders, the district attorney says Allen must register as a sex offender.   A punishment Connolly says, will last a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tougher surveillance law could put Peeping Toms on sex offender list

They're trying to add as many to the list as possible:


Tougher surveillance law could put Peeping Toms on sex offender list
Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 9:07 AM     Updated: Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 3:38 PM
 By Paul Gattis, The Huntsville Times 

(Stock image)
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Robert James Bell of Decatur has already been convicted seven times for criminal surveillance. He's currently in jail in Morgan County for three more charges of surveillance, as well as three burglary counts. Warrants for surveillance are also outstanding in Huntsville and Michigan.
Yet, because Bell kept slipping through the criminal justice system to commit the same crimes again, Decatur city prosecutor Emily Baggett took action.
After Baggett pushed for tougher penalties, Sen. Arthur Orr sponsored a bill that was signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley in April.
Now a conviction of criminal surveillance for the purpose of sexual gratification could, at the discretion of the prosecutor, result in placement on the sex offender registry.
"This one case brought the issue to the forefront," Baggett said Monday.
According to Baggett, Bell is 50 years old with ties to Michigan but he is listed in court records with a Spring Avenue address in Decatur. He would spy on women in bathroom stalls in restaurants and department stores, said Baggett.
A pattern developed in Alabama, where Bell was arrested for surveillance in Decatur and Athens, as well as the case pending in Huntsville.
There were similar incidents in Michigan, where a felony extradition order has been filed.
"If you really think about it, if somebody does this a lot, and some people do, you want to be aware," Baggett said. "It's kind of scary that somebody can continue to watch somebody in the bathroom and nothing really ever happens."
Senate Bill 148 changed that. It's now aggravated criminal surveillance to spy on someone with a reasonable expectation of privacy - such as a bathroom stall in a restaurant - "for the purpose of sexual gratification."
The crime has been upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor - which meets the level of requiring to register as a sexual offender, Baggett said. A second conviction on aggravated criminal surveillance is a Class C felony.
Previously, each conviction was a Class B misdemeanor.
Orr, who sponsored the bill, said the issue resonated with the Legislature because neighboring states have tougher criminal surveillance laws. And Alabama's previous law "was not enhanced for repeat offenders," Orr said.
"It's not something that will hopefully be used a lot," Baggett said. "But with technology, there is a concern about sexual voyeurism. Our laws don't really, in comparisons to other states, don't have the protection."