Convicted sheriff gives thumbs-up review of jail he ran

Oct 5, 2021, 12:21 AM | Updated: 12:23 pm

FILE - This Aug. 22, 2019, file photo provided by the Limestone Sheriff's Office shows Sheriff Mike Blakely following his arrest on theft and ethics charges, in Athens, Ala. Speaking with the media on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, Blakely gave glowing reviews to the Limestone County Jail, where he spent time in custody even though he ran it for decades. (Limestone County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

(Limestone County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A longtime Alabama sheriff removed from office after being convicted of theft and ethics violations is giving five-star reviews to the jail where he spent more than two weeks in custody. Perhaps he should: He ran it for decades.

Ousted Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely addressed the news media on Tuesday in his most extensive public comments since being convicted in August. Free on bond while appealing, Blakely maintained his innocence but had no complaints about doing time in the Limestone County jail in Athens.

“Best jail in the state of Alabama — that’s another thing I’m proud of,” Blakely said during a news conference outside his attorney’s office in Huntsville. “The food was real good, the staff took very good care of me.”

Blakely, 70, was convicted in August of taking no-interest loans from a Limestone County jail fund that held prisoners’ money and of stealing $4,000 from his campaign account. He was in his 10th straight term at the time of his removal from office, making him Alabama’s longest-serving sheriff at the time.

Wearing his trademark cowboy hat and boots, Blakely said he had fewer privileges than jail trusties and denied receiving special treatment from his former staff.

“I was incarcerated, whether they kept me in my office up front or whether they had me in the hole in the back,” he said. “When you’re incarcerated, let me tell you, you don’t have the freedom to go.”

Blakely said he “couldn’t ask for better treatment from the inmates,” and said some even offered to have him food delivered to the jail.

“I said, ‘No, I eat the jail food ’cause I love it because I’ve been eating it for the last 38 years,” he said.

Sentenced to three years in custody, Blakely won’t get to serve time in the Limestone County jail once he begins his term. A judge ruled that he will be held at the Franklin County Jail, located about 60 miles (97 kilometers) from Athens.

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Convicted sheriff gives thumbs-up review of jail he ran