Betty Keys, secretary for the road department, won’t be fired, Ashburn said. “She does a good job and is a good dependable employee.
Ashburn and other officials aren’t specifying the disciplinary action that has been taken.
“She took full responsibility for the incident immediately when I brought her in the office,” he said. “I have taken the appropriate disciplinary actions for the misjudgment that she had.
“Unfortunately it was a poor judgment by her because the trusty ultimately had finished the tasks that he had and was looking for something else to do.” Ashburn said. “It shouldn’t have happened.”
Keys said she used the inmate, a trusty, on Thursday, March 15, to wash her van since she had nothing else for him to do, Ashburn said. A trusty is an inmate who is considered trustworthy and granted special privileges.
The trusty ordinarily does housekeeping-type chores twice weekly at the road department offices, he said. He is assigned to the Walker County Civic Center on the remaining three weekdays, he said.
Keys is in charge of overseeing the trusty’s work at the road department, making sure that he completes all his assigned tasks, Ashburn said. She uses her private vehicle to provide lunch for the inmate and isn’t reimbursed for that gas she uses, he said.
Neither county commissioner Bebe Heiskell nor sheriff Steve Wilson allowed such activity or had any knowledge of the incident until the day after it happened, Ashburn said.
“Once we pick up an inmate, he is our responsibility, not the sheriffs,” Ashburn said.
Some have alleged that Keys was allowed to do this because she is involved in Heiskell’s re-election efforts.
Keys is not Heiskell’s election campaign manager, Ashburn said. She has worked in past campaigns for Heiskell, he said.
There has been speculation that Keys’ action was a felony and that under state law could lose her job.
“As a police officer I would be hard-pressed to see anywhere the law states that it is a felony,” Ashburn said. “There is no investigation. She said she did it the first second she was asked.”