Fayette County jail proposes increasing health care costs for inmates | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Fayette County jail proposes increasing health care costs for inmates

Today, Rodney Ballard, Director of Corrections for Lexington-Fayette County, gave a presentation to the urban county council on a proposal to raise the booking fees and medical co-pays that inmates are required to pay.

Currently, when a person is processed into the Fayette County jail they are charged a $20 booking fee. While incarcerated, if an inmate needs to see a doctor they must pay a $5 co-pay and an additional $2.50 co-pay for prescription medications. Under this proposal, fees would increase to $35 for booking, $15 to see a doctor, and $15 for all prescriptions that cost greater than $14.99.

As you may expect, these fee increases will pose a great hardship to many Fayette County inmates because in addition to paying for medical services, inmates are required to purchase their own toiletries, toilet paper, stamps and phone cards. Each inmate is issued two pairs of underwear, but if they need more (as most people do), they must buy them from the prison commissary. Inmates depend on family and friends to deposit money into their canteen accounts in order to make purchases from the commissary. If inmate's family is unable to give them assistance, well... you can guess what that means. One member from the community attending the presentation spoke about a friend of his who chose to buy stamps so that he could write to his loved ones rather than see a doctor.

Mr. Ballard made sure to mention several times that no one would be denied medical attention because of inability to pay. However, they would incur a negative balance on their account. If a family member were then to deposit money into their loved ones account, that money would first go towards the negative balance. If a person is released on a negative balance they won't be required to pay it, that is unless they are rearrested in which case Kentucky law, statute 441.265 allows the jail to take whatever money is on the inmates person at the time they're booked and apply it to their previous negative balance.

When asked why Mr. Ballard was seeking permission from the city council to make these fee increases, he stated that he was hired to "save taxpayer's money."

Unfortunately, Fayette County corrections is not the only correctional facility raising fees on inmates. In Kenton County, their correctional facility charges a $35 booking fee, a $20 medical co-pay and a $10 per diem fee (that's $10 a day that you're incarcerated). In Warren County, the correctional facility charges a $70 booking fee, a $20 medical co-pay and a $30 per diem fee.

It seems that there might be better ways to "save taxpayers money" than to take advantage of such a vulnerable population of people. If you agree, please write or call Lexington urban county council members and urge them not to support these fee increases. You can email all of the council members here: councilmembers@lexingtonky.gov. or visit here for their individual contact information.

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