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Sheriff wants to validate jail store

For more than 20 years, the Chilton County Jail has operated a store and phone service for inmates — without a required act in the Alabama Legislature giving them the authority to do so.

Now, Sheriff Kevin Davis is seeking to enter an act in the Legislature that will allow the jail to continue providing these services.

An examiner found the discrepancy in a recent audit but took no immediate action with the understanding that Davis would pursue an act. The Chilton County Commission has agreed to assist the sheriff.

“We’re not wanting to change anything about how the store is run,” Davis said. “We just want to acquire an act with the state so it’s being done the legal and right way.”

The store allows inmates to purchase items such as candy bars, snacks, breakfast pastries and soft drinks. Phone calls are charged by the minute. While there is no limit on store purchases or calls, all calls must be made collect, and the person on the other end of the line must agree to accept fees.

Davis said he didn’t know how the absence of an act could have been overlooked for all these years, but said he was confident of its passage.

“[The act] just authorizes the setup of what’s already there and validates what’s already been set up,” County Attorney John Hollis Jackson explained.

The store and phone service together yield at least $4,000 per month, the proceeds of which are used to purchase needed items within the department.

“We could not survive without this, or it would be tough,” Davis said.

– Scott Mims can be reached at scott.mims@clantonadvertiser.com.