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‘$50,000 we didn’t need to spend’

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Lunches for inmates stopped when Conway learns jail already provides

By Ben Carlson

Inmates on work release in Anderson County will no longer dine on the local taxpayers’ dime.
Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway pulled the plug Tuesday night on the practice of providing lunches for inmates after learning that the jail that houses them already provides them with a bag lunch.
Conway told magistrates that during the past six years, approximately $50,000 has been spent purchasing inmate meals at restaurants all across Anderson County, ranging from pizza to burgers to other cuisine. For instance, on the fiscal court’s most recent bills list, Stink’s Diner charged the county $166.35 for inmate meals.
“That’s $50,000 in the past six years that we didn’t have to spend,” Conway said during last Tuesday night’s meeting of the Anderson County Fiscal Court. “I didn’t know about this until yesterday.”
Conway said he learned that prisoners already receive a bagged lunch during a conversation the previous day with Shelby County Jailer Bobby Waits.
He told magistrates that when the county started getting inmates six years ago, inmate lunches were around $7.50 per inmate, per day.
“It’s escalated,” Conway said.
Conway said the only thing the county is required to provide is a soft drink or bottled water.