Transfer Troubles: Inmate sues claiming civil rights violation

Tavares Fletcher in court with his attorney during his trial.
Tavares Fletcher in court with his attorney during his trial.

It's Alabama state law that inmates sentenced to prison time are supposed to be moved out of a local jail and into prison within 30 days.

With a Madison County inmate saying he has been there past that time and now suing over what he is calling a civil rights violation, we have been investigating what is really going on.

Tavares Fletcher made headlines when he filed a lawsuit shortly after he was sentenced to life in prison for attempted murder. His suit is against the judge and the prosecutor who handled the case.

Fletcher filed the handwritten lawsuit in circuit court one month and one day after his sentencing date. He claims that's more than the 30 days the law says an inmate has to wait for transfer to state prison.

"There is no civil liability for judge or prosecutors in that case because the issue is if there is a bed open for this person," said WAFF 48 Legal Analyst Mark McDaniel.

And it is more than who Fletcher is going after that McDaniel finds unusual.

"I've never seen a situation where a person wanted to go from county jail to the state penitentiary. We are talking elementary school level versus graduate school level incarceration," said McDaniel.

But the question remains why was Tavares Fletcher in jail past the 30 days?

Madison County Jail Administrator Steve Morrison reviewed the specifics of that law requiring the transfer of inmates from county lock up to the state pen.

He confirmed that an inmate must be moved within 30 days but that 30 days starts 30 days after transcripts have been completed.

With a backlog of cases and prison overcrowding, the courts say it can take weeks or months before the paperwork is processed and the inmate is transferred.

In this case, the reporter's transcript order came down October 13th, nearly two months after Flecther's sentencing date.

So is the county upset over the loss of this inmate to the state? Not at all. And if you think they want the beds in the jail filled, think again.

"The state pays us $1.75 per inmate to house them here," said Madison County Jail Administrator Steve Morrison.

But the county's tab is much more expensive. Morrison says it costs taxpayers $55 per day, per inmate, costing the county thousands of dollars.

"A lot of money the courts has to take out of the coffers," said Morrison.

Fletcher has been now transferred to state prison. No other prisoners in the Madison County Jail are closing in on their 30 day deadline.

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