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The Hunger Artist

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In today’s New York Times Adam Nossiter gives us the story of Greg Bartlett, the sheriff of Morgan County, Alabama, now ordered to jail by the state’s most senior federal judge, civil rights lion U.W. Clemon. The sheriff had been starving his inmates in order to line his own wallet: enriching himself by $212,000 that he saved from funds destined to feed his inmates. Now Bartlett will have to make due with what he feeds his jailmates–“a few spoonfuls of grits, part of an egg and a piece of toast at breakfast, and bits of undercooked, bloody chicken at supper”—until he can come up with a plan to properly nourish his charges.

The case was brought by the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights on behalf of the prisoners. Contrast it with the sort of case pursued by the Bush Justice Department: The U.S. Attorney in Northern Alabama, Alice Martin, recently announced her intention to make another try to convict Sue Schmitz, a retired school teacher, for underperformance on an education contract on which Schmitz was paid $42,000 a year. Martin has now expended over $2 million in taxpayer dollars in her unsuccessful efforts to prosecute Schmitz, who also happens to be a Democratic legislator.

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