From Fairfield County Sheriff Bubba Montgomery, who was convicted in 1992 of using prisoners to work on his lake home, to Williamsburg County Sheriff Theo McFarlin, sent to prison on cocaine charges in 1998, some sheriffs have made the wrong kinds of headlines.
James Metts is the seventh sheriff in South Carolina’s 46 counties to face criminal charges in the past four years. An eighth sheriff died of a heart attack as an investigation into his finances was wrapping up.
Jeff Moore, head of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association for 32 years, has said that about 35 sheriffs run county jails, and that’s where a lot of problems come in. Under a state program, sheriffs can get skilled convicts to come back to their counties and put them to work on public property.
“It can save a county literally hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. It’s free labor. But you can’t take them home or have them work on your pickup,” Moore said.