A federal judge is questioning Alabama's practice of letting county sheriffs make a profit from feeding prisoners in their jails.
U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon has scheduled a hearing in Decatur for Wednesday in a lawsuit filed over conditions in the Morgan County Jail. Clemon ordered the sheriff to bring documents showing how much money he is making off the system.
A state law dating to the Depression pays sheriffs $1.75 a day to feed prisoners and lets them keep any profit. Some sheriff actually make money off the practice despite the low payments.
Critics charge that the system can lead to abuse, but sheriffs defend it. The judge wants to know how much Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett is personally profiting from the payments.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)