No more extra lunches for inmates

By Kristen Tribe | Published Sunday, June 27, 2010

Before the end of a commissioners’ meeting, stomachs tend to growl. The problem was worsened June 14 when commissioners began discussing meals – inmate meals – as it grew closer to lunchtime.

Supervisors sometimes buy meals for inmate work crews, and Auditor Ann McCuiston recommended putting more financial procedures in place to keep track of those expenses and to document who is eating the food purchased.

She also recommended reducing the county’s petty cash account at the treasurer’s office from $600 to $200. Most of the meal reimbursements come from this account.

At the last meeting, commissioners approved both of these recommendations and agreed that crews should not be fed every time, but only occasionally, as a reward.

Sheriff David Walker also asked that if they are going to feed inmates that the jail is notified, so it does not also order meals for those inmates.

“When they go on a crew, they always get a sack lunch,” said Walker. “(If you’re going to buy their lunch,) let us know so we don’t have to send them a lunch and save that money.

“It could save us from purchasing meals we don’t need,” he said.

He also emphasized that if inmates are given food, they must eat it before they return to the jail.

“If they bring in burritos or something, we don’t let them take it back. It becomes a bargaining tool,” he said.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White said he occasionally buys meals when he keeps an inmate work crew late in the evening because he thought they would return to the jail too late for dinner.

“If we know they’re getting in late, we’ll have a meal for them,” Walker said.

He explained that inmates eat breakfast about 5 a.m. and are given a sack lunch when working outside the jail.

According to county records for the months of Oct. 2009 through May 2010, White turned in two tickets, and Precinct 4 Commissioner Terry Ross turned in six tickets.

There were four tickets turned in from Precinct 3 before Glenn Hughes was named interim commissioner.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns did not turn in any tickets and neither did Public Works Director Tom Goode or Sheriff Walker, who also use work crews.

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