These photos were taken today, March 15th, at the Walker County Road Barn in Chickamauga:

The man in orange is a Walker County Jail inmate, checked out to do work for the county. The vital work he’s doing for Walker County is washing and detailing the personal vehicle of a woman named Betty Keys. Keys is a member of the county Animal Control board and (more importantly) manager of Bebe Heiskell’s reelection campaign. She’s also paid to be a secretary for the county but nobody can figure out what her responsibilities are since she’s never been observed doing real work.

According to sources, Keys used to pay inmates from Walker State Prison $10 to wash her vehicle, but the warden there caught her and stopped the practice. So now she’s using county inmates instead. No word on whether or not this unidentified prisoner was paid or otherwise compensated for his service.

Legally, checked-out prisoners (even ones paid under the table) can only do services that benefit the public, such as washing or repairing government-owned vehicles, doing maintenance work on public property, mowing grass in parks, picking up trash on the right-of-way, etc. Any use of a prisoner to work on private property or perform services for individuals is considered an abuse of the inmates’ civil rights and a violation of state law. Using a prisoner to assist with a reelection campaign (as this might be defined) could also violate federal elections law.

Walker County Government ethics in action. The kind of behavior we can continue to expect as long as Walker County has a sole commissioner, and as long as that Sole Commissioner is Bebe Heiskell.

Previous problems with checked out Walker County inmates: Trustworthy?

Have a photo of unethical behavior in the city or county? We’re always happy to see them and share the best. E-mail the Underground, anonymity guaranteed, to photos@cityoflafayettega.com.

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11 comments so far

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  1. Our link to the law didn’t work for many readers, this has been fixed. Sorry for any confusion.

    Many people are reacting as if we’ve said prisoners shouldn’t do work, but that’s not the case at all. Prisoners should work and repay their debts to society. But prisoners should not be used to benefit individuals in authority, otherwise the entire prison system eventually turns into little more than a system of forced slavery.

    In the 1920’s and 1930’s inmate abuse was rampant and more than a few wardens and guards took money under the table for using prisoners to work in factories or do dangerous jobs for next to nothing. (For a fictional example, see “Shawshank Redemption.”) These laws were put into place for benefit of the prisoners and to keep law enforcement authorities from using inmates in corrupt ways.

    This isn’t about the man working (he’s not in trouble) or about him actually washing a car – it’s about county leaders who set and enforce rules actually FOLLOWING the rules. Per the Official Code of Georgia, either Betty Keys, Bebe Heiskell, or Steve Wilson (or all three) should be dismissed from their job and spend at least two years in jail. That’s not our opinion, that’s what the law says.

    Will that law be enforced? That’s entirely up to the state, and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. Olens can investigate further or call in the GBI, something individual citizens cannot do. We’ve contacted Olens’ office about this, and would encourage readers to do the same. 404 656 3300 or ContactUs@law.ga.gov .

    When we overlook these “minor” things and allow leaders to follow only those laws they like, then we’ve essentially put them on a different level where the rules apply to us but not them. That’s about five minutes away from tyranny.

    — LU

  2. Thanks to whoever did this investigation…gives me hope the “press” isn’t dead, and that citizen journalists are picking up the stories that need to be told, the “vettin'” that needs to be done.
    Or maybe it’s just when you’re in manure long enough, the truth begins to grow.

    Lets see if the so-called “big dogs” in the media step up to the plate.

    On a production note, however, next time GET THE TAG NUMBER.

  3. I 100% disagree with the comment about removing all 3 county officials. Keys was the one soley involved in this and she alone should be held accountible for HER actions. Bebe Heiskell has done more for walker county than any before her and more than ANYONE could imagine, or possibly even know about.
    That someone needs to really think hard before judging 3 people in the place of 1 persons mess up!

  4. mountainmikey: we’re lucky there was a photo at all. The officers who took these pics are being harassed, and Road Barn employees are being threatened with their jobs. Ms. Keys’ vehicle is well known to many people, and even the slightest investigation into these pics by an outside agency will show that everybody over there knows this goes on.

    Nikki: your mom/grandma, Bebe Heiskell, is ultimately in charge of everything that goes on there. And by most accounts, Betty Keys wouldn’t even have her job if not for Bebe, since she doesn’t actually do anything except run the Commissioner’s reelection campaigns. But we can overlook that if she actually steps up and removes Keys from employment with the county and finds a new campaign manager, which she doesn’t seem likely to do.

    — LU

  5. What about the fireman stephens who was fired because he refused to put a radio in someones personal vehicle. Insubordination was the reason he was fired…we need new officials in every seat in this city and county…..its ridiculous. _

  6. Voting for Woodruff for DA, Roden for Sheriff and Coker for Magistrate….these three I know personally and they are awesome caring individuals. They know the laws n the people and will do their job and bring back innocent till proven guilty and not the other way around. Sick of the judicial system in Walker County. We need real men or women who fight for whats right.

  7. If I had my way inmates would be doing a lot more than washing cars and picking up trash. How about paving roads, doing yard work for city buildings, painting and remodeling schools (during the summer of course) and any number of “busy” work needed in the city. Sitting around watching TV and working out on my dime is annoying. It seems to me that this “underground” group is nothing more than a group of people intent on causing trouble for the smallest of things. It is my opinion that once you get arrested and incarcerated you loose all rights except the most basic ones (food, shelter, clothing). All others are forfeit.

  8. Tedd: They SHOULD be paving roads and doing yard work, that’s what the trustee prisoners are for. But this one wasn’t doing that, he was doing personal service for county employees who happen to be best friends with the sole commissioner – which violates state and federal law.

    — LU

  9. Unfortunately this doesn’t violate state and/or federal law. The only violation that would come from this is if the person having them to work is making a profit from it, you really should investigate the law a lot better than what you have L.U. Secondly Mr Stephens was NOT asked to do work on a personal vehicle persay. It was the vehicle used by the Public Works Director in this case Mr Mark White that is in fact Government property.Every Public Works employee has a government issued vehicle for their daily duties including the Director. And it was that vehicle that was to be outfitted. The reason these vehicles are all being outfitted with CB radios is for communication concerns so that if an instance occurs where the cell phone towers are down, these vehicles can communicate properly with emergency dispatch so that they can help collaberate better search and rescue efforts in any emergency such as what happened during the tornados on April 27,2011. I know this because I’m not only a LaFayette Underground contributor but also an employee of the City of LaFayette. Surprise ,Surprise numb nuts ! Try figuring out who I am ! They’ve successfully planted a mole and you idiots fell for it !

  10. Your lack of grammar and punctuation skills would make you eleigible for LaFayette employment, because you sound like a complete moron … but I know you’re lying through your yellow teeth.

    silly numbnut … get a life.