County sheriff says mass state inmate release is shifting the burden onto local law enforcement

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 10:23 PM CST
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CALHOUN COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - A local sheriff is concerned about the impact the release of hundreds of inmates earlier this week could have on county jails.

Calhoun County Sheriff Mathew Wade said when the state sent the list of the roughly 400 inmates they plan to release, 12 of those prisoners were in the Calhoun County jurisdiction.

Wade says he worries these released inmates are just going to end up back in custody, but this time, in a county jail.

“They are releasing anybody and everybody they can,” Wade said. “It’s not just violent offenders.”

Calhoun County Sheriff Mathew Wade said the mass release of almost 400 inmates this week is just shifting the burden from the state onto local law enforcement.

“These people they put out on probation or parole, if they violate, they don’t go back to the prison,” Wade said. “They go back to the county jail and sit for nine months to a year before they get sent back to prison. A lot of times prisons will let them sit in county jails until the EOS, which is end their sentence.”

Wade believes the likelihood of an inmate violating parole or reoffending is high.

“I hope and pray that everyone of those people become a productive citizen in our community, but my 27 years of experience tells me that is probably not going to happen,” Wade said. “The very first one I pulled up was for robbery in the first degree, which is a class A felony, same as murder. That means this person used a weapon and used force to take something from somebody.”

With 12 inmates set to come back to the county, Wade said if they are arrested again, it becomes a financial burden for Calhoun County.

“The state of Alabama gives us $2.25 a day to feed somebody three meals,” Wade said. “That’s a financial burden placed on the counties. It probably costs six to seven dollars a day to feed an inmate. The state pays $2.25, when it’s their legal responsibility to feed these inmates.”

Wade said the state inmate release is a way for the state to create more room in state prisons, amid a federal lawsuit regarding safety and condition concerns in Alabama prisons.

“They are rough and there are safety concerns, living condition concerns, and they are overcrowded,” Wade said. “They need to accept and do their responsibility, instead of pushing that burden down on local governments and putting criminals out on the streets early, to victimize our citizens. They just kick the can, put it back on our communities for more crime, and in our county jails, instead of being placed where they are sentenced by a judge. It’s kind of aggravating.”

Calhoun County recently housed more than 100 state inmates and Sheriff Wade said some of them were in county jail, instead of their sentenced prison, for up to two years.

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