Madison County leadership giving no answers on jail as commissary program is questioned

Madison County leadership giving no answers on jail as commissary program is questioned

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Madison County jail is going on two weeks of compromised computers, phones and roster system.

Wednesday, it left one girlfriend of an inmate calling for transparency, while the county’s elected leaders didn’t answer questions.

On Tuesday, WAFF 48 approached County Chairman Dale Strong and asked him about ransomware.

It’s a type of software that holds an IT system hostage until a ransom is paid.

Multiple leaders in the county had told WAFF anonymously ransomware is at fault for the computers being down.

Dale Strong on IT issues at jail

I approached Chairman Dale Strong about ransomware rumors at the county jail. Full story on WAFF 48 News

Posted by Chris Joseph WAFF 48 on Tuesday, February 18, 2020

This is a transcript of the interaction:

  • Joseph: Chairman, I’m obligated to ask. Ransomware. What’s the deal?
  • Strong: No comment.
  • Joseph: No comment?
  • Strong: If you think about it, you’re a smart guy.
  • Joseph: Yeah
  • Strong: What happens if we go get a bunch of s*** in the media right now. They up how much we pay. I represent the taxpayers of this county. I’m always helpful to whoever I can help. You’re a smart guy.
  • Joseph: Right
  • Strong: What do you think happens if we get on every other TV station....(inaudible)
  • Joseph: I don’t know, I mean if you’re negotiating millions of dollars, that could be...
  • Strong: Where'd you get that?
  • Joseph: Millions?
  • Strong: You’re the one that just said that. I said where’d you get that at?
  • Joseph: We heard it through the grapevine from multiple people now.
  • Strong: Okay (greets guest)
  • Strong: Like I say, it’s one of these things, when you think about it, I have to represent this county. I thought if anybody you could understand that. The last thing I would want to do is go do something that could cost us another 25 cents more.
  • Joseph: Right...
  • Strong: We have a very limited budget as it is.
  • Joseph: Understood, understood. But you are negotiating with them right now right?
  • Strong: I’m not negotiating with nobody.
  • Joseph: Ok, understood.

WAFF 48 News approached Strong, county commissioners, Sheriff Kevin Turner and county attorney Jeff Rich about the chairman’s comments.

All declined to comment except District 6 Commissioner JesHenry Malone.

“What I do know is that they are working through an IT issue. The people that are assigned to that project are the people that are the people who have the information right now. Because the of the confidentiality and the manner in which it’s being investigated right now, we’re not allowed to comment at this time,” he said.

The FBI could neither confirm nor deny any investigation.

One girlfriend of an inmate asked to be anonymous because of retaliation concerns.

The inmate is being held for violating parole, and she said he hasn’t received the commissary items she’s paid for because of the computer issues.

“I just want to know where’s my money, and why has he not getting anything?” she said.

"They're saying it's not impacting any of the services, when it definitely, definitely is. So, they either need to find a way, I know working where I work, if our IT goes down, we have a back-up plan. You have a back up plan. You do it manually like they used to do, old school. It doesn't take two weeks to get it back up."

The sheriff’s office released a statement on Feb. 14th saying commissary is functional.

The Sheriff’s Office wants to reassure everyone that ALL inmate services at the Madison County Jail are operational and...

Posted by Madison County Sheriff's Office on Friday, February 14, 2020

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Inv. Brent Patterson did not respond to a request for comment.

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