Trevor Noah taps the Alabama sheriff who spent $750,000 in inmate food funds on a beach house to explain 'legal' versus 'wrong'

Trevor Noah explores "legal" versus "wrong"
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/The Daily Show)

There is at least one public servant in Alabama who "has found his job very enriching," Trevor Noah said on Wednesday's Daily Show, referring to Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin, who apparently pocketed $750,000 from funds earmarked to feed prisoners and bought a beach house with the money. Buying beach houses is a dead giveaway you're skimming money from work, Noah said, "but maybe the reason the sheriff wasn't trying to hide it is that he didn't care about being caught, because it turns out — and this shocked me when I found it out — in Alabama, it's not against the law."

A pre-World War II law apparently allows sheriffs to pocket any money they don't use on feeding inmates — in other words, "any money you don't use to do your government job, you get to keep for yourself," Noah said. That's a terrible idea, giving "public officials an incentive to do their jobs badly. Like, I don't think it would be a good idea to let firefighters keep any money they save on water." Making matters worse, the reason he turns a profit on the food budget is that he feeds inmates things like oatmeal, white bread, and hard-boiled eggs. "Once you've learned that the sheriff makes money off of prisoners," you hear his enthusiasm for locking people up "in a different light," Noah said. "This guy's unbelievable — he's probably the only person who watched Shawshank Redemption and was inspired by the warden."

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.