Madison County Jail IT system back online; sheriff’s office shares limited details on fix

Madison County Jail IT system back online; sheriff’s office shares limited details on fix

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - After roughly five weeks, the Madison County jail is back online.

Madison County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Brent Patterson said the jail’s online roster became operational “late last week."

On Feb. 7, the office announced the IT system was experiencing “issues." This impacted internal computers, phones and roster systems.

A series of WAFF reports shed light on how the “issues” slowed inmates from bonding out, cost bondsmen money, and impacted Madison County’s court system.

The sheriff’s office has not yet elaborated on what the nature of the “issues” was.

On Feb. 18, Madison County Chairman Dale Strong made comments to WAFF 48 that suggest the issue was ransomware, or a malicious software that holds the system hostage until a ransom is paid.

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

(Joseph walks up to Chairman Strong)

  • 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.

(Strong walks off)

Strong has not since elaborated on the comments, and declined an opportunity on Wednesday to answer questions on how the system was fixed.

Patterson also declined an interview, however, he said by text that “The IT professionals that have been working on these issues for about a month were able to get it back up. I’m not aware of ANY money (sic) used to fix the problem.”

He said the current online roster system is the same system the jail had used before it went down.

For Bad Boys Bail Bonding owner Joe Medlen, the fix is welcome news.

”People who have not been in the business very long and stuff, they don’t know what they’re missing and stuff until you miss it," he said.

He said the down system cost his business time, money and stress, so his questions remain about his tax dollars.

“Would I like to know how my money is being spent? What cost me that dollar? So yes, I would like an answer."

WAFF 48 News requested documents from Madison County Chief Financial Officer Carol Long that would explain how much money it cost to fix the jail IT system.

She has not yet responded. The Madison County Courthouse is currently closed due to coronavirus concerns.

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