According to a recent state audit of the Logan County Detention Center, it is recommend that the county hire a collection agency to recover funds that are spent to house inmates.
According to jailer Bill Jenkins, it is allowable to charge inmates for their daily stay in the jail, along with expenses accrued such as booking and processing fees and medical and prescription costs.
Jenkins said auditors recommended that the county hire an agency to collect these costs. Jenkins said he sent four agencies requests to do the job and only got back two responses. He reported to the Logan County Fiscal Court that out of the two he was recommending Hillcrest, because they had experience with other jails in collecting these debts. This will not cost the county a dime, said Magistrate Thomas Bouldin. The collection agency will take a cut of what it collects.
Jenkins had brought this issue up to the fiscal court several weeks ago, however, county attorney Joe Ross wanted to look into the legality of it first before the court proceeded further. Ross came back on Tuesday, Nov. 13 giving the county a green light to move forward.
“I spoke with Warren County’s attorney and he said they have been doing this for awhile now,” said Ross, who also agreed with Jenkins on going with Hillcrest. The only suggestion Ross had was making sure to make the inmate aware when they are booked into the jail that they will have to pay this money. Jenkins said the county cannot charge the inmate unless they get convicted.
Jenkins said the collection agency will send out a courtesy letter to all inmates first before collecting.
Magistrate Jo Orange asked how far back would the county go to recover the debts? Jenkins said he had heard it could be between two and five years back, but will have to wait and see what the law is.
“I am sure there is a statute of limitations,” said Jenkins.
Orange, who was the lone vote against the collection, said she was voting no because she thought it would put a hardship on the inmates and their families. She also didn’t think the county would collect that much.
Magistrate Thomas Bouldin said he was voting yes because it wouldn’t cost the county anything to do it and any funds recovered would be better than none.
Although Magistrate Barry Joe Wright expressed his concern for the hardship on the inmate’s families, he still voted yes with the rest of the court.
Orange, in one last attempt to strike the idea down, suggested doing away with it all together. Magistrate Drexel Johnson said he had mixed feelings about it, but said it was there for a reason. He voted yes along with the majority of the court.