Plan proposed for sharing jail costs

Knowing that it would not be popular with other area law enforcement agencies, the administrator of the Fayette County Jail presented to the Fayette County Board a proposal to have those agencies share in the cost of housing inmates.
Ted Koonce told board members that he has been researching the county jail act and feels that the county would be able to ask all area law enforcement agencies to help pay for arrestees.
Koonce said that when an officer from an agency other than the county sheriff’s office brings an arrestee into the jail, “he (or she) is not our prisoner until he (or she) goes in front of the judge and is remanded to the county.
“At that point, he becomes our responsibility and liability,” Koonce said.
“Before that, that detainee is – Vandalia, Farina, Ramsey, whomever – is their responsibility,” Koonce said.
He told board members that the county charges the federal government $68 a day to house federal prisoners, “and I think the county should be charging the local authorities $68 a day.”
A big issue, Koonce said, is detainees who require medical attention.
Under the county jail act, he said, the arresting agency “is responsible for qualified medical expenses related to the detainee until such time (the) arrestee is placed in the custody of the sheriff.
“There have been numerous times that we get somebody in from the local (police department), and end up sending one of my staff members up there to the hospital for tests and stuff.
“We are eating that cost right now,” Koonce said.
Under the county jail act, he said, the arresting agency can be charged with not only the medical expenses, but also the ambulance charges and for the jail employee’s time with that arrestee.
He told of one incident where an officer from another agency brought an arrestee to the jail. “He (the arrestee) never set foot in our jail. He left their squad car and went in an ambulance to the hospital.
“I’m still fighting not to pay that bill,” Koonce said. “I do think I’m going to lose that argument, but that was never our prisoner.
“He never came in our jail, and he is not our prisoner until he goes before a judge, the bond is set and he is remanded to our custody,” Koonce said.
Koonce also said that the act allows the county to charge detainees who can afford it for any medical expenses incurred by the county. “We’ve got one in there (jail) who was getting pensions,” he said.
“There are a lot of little things we can get out of paying just by creating an ordinance,” Koonce said.
He said that one person who has been in the jail for an extended period of time “is costing us thousands of dollars. We’re probably looking at the $100,000 mark, because of issues.”
With an ordinance on the books, Koonce said, the county could probably approach the Illinois Department of Human Services about reimbursing the county at some level, Koonce said.
County Board Chairman Jeff Beckman said he would have the issue put on the board for further discussion at the October board meeting.

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