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 Inmate meals fattened sheriff's wallet

Although the breakfast service at the Hubbard County jail had captive customers and big profits before it ended, the  Sheriff's attorney says this isn't a case of "scam and eggs"


October, 12, 2007

PARK RAPIDS, MINN. - The for-profit breakfast service a sheriff ran in the jail here has left egg on a face or two, and the whiff, some say, of something other than bacon.

For eight years, according to Public Records, taxpayers were overcharged up to 100 percent for each breakfast served in the Hubbard County jail, and Sheriff Gary Mills captured all the profits without incident.

The practice, which officials called an archaic holdover from the days when many
Minnesota sheriffs lived in their jails and their wives cooked for the inmates, finally ended last December, when the county started paying the company that was doing the jail's lunch and dinner to also provide breakfast.

Mills sued the county for lost income, and the county made a counterclaim for all of Mills' accumulated profits, saying it hasn't been legal for
Minnesota sheriffs to make money feeding inmates for at least 30 years.

The case is set to go to trial next spring, but both sides said they recently reached a settlement that they'll ask the
County Board to approve next month. Details are being withheld pending that approval. Mills said he'd "love to" comment further but won't because of the court case.

Though it may look like scam and eggs, Mills' attorney, Steven Fuller of
Bemidji, argues that it's not:

"People have tried to make it sound like something evil, but this is the way it was done in many rural counties going back decades," he said. "One of the ways a county that liked their sheriff could pay him more was to give him something extra for providing meals."

Minnesota sheriffs to feed prisoners "was a very common practice," Jim Franklin, head of the Minnesota Sheriffs Association, said in an e-mail. He added that as counties stopped this practice, many opted to increase their sheriff's salary... Continue reading on the Star Tribune

Source: Star Tribune


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