Sunday, September 27, 2015 | 2:09 PM
Speaking to the Haleyville Rotary Club recently, Winston County Sheriff Hobby Walker apologized for breaking one of his campaign promises which was to stop housing out-of-county inmates in the Winston County jail. Walker blamed the former sheriff for leaving his coffers dry. He said he did not realize when he took office, the office would be broke. Walker extended the contract for one year, with two stipulations. He raised the per diem rate from $32.50 to $40 per day, and any inmate from Jasper would be picked up at the jail by a Jasper police officer, and not just released. As of May, that one year contract has brought in around $250,000 which all goes to the Sheriff's office.
Two projects Walker is trying to revive include a work release program and a drug task force. He also plans to move the Sheriff's dispatch back to the jail so as to make the jail more secure. He is installing a new fence and a gate which the dispatch will control, and he has secured a building for the dispatch. The work release program will help free up space in the jail by having those inmates live in a 30 X 50 foot quonset hut next to the jail. Walker said he is still looking for a grant to fund the drug task force.
Sheriff Walker predicted with the prison reform bill, this time next year, there will not be a county jail in Alabama which is not over crowded, including Winston. Sheriff Walker stated, "overall, it comes down to money to run the sheriff's department."