Jail committee saves on drugs, home incarceration

November 14, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY

The Boyle-Mercer Joint Jail Committee tackled two problems Friday that raise the cost of operating the Boyle County Detention Center.

The cost of providing medical treatment to inmates increases with the number of inmates in the jail, and pharmaceuticals are the most expensive part of those costs.

In October, pharmaceutical costs took $6,379 from the jail's treasury, and is more than half of the $10,260 in medical costs for the month.

Committee members and jail officials have been looking for ways to reduce those costs. Two companies, IHS and Diamond, submitted information about their service and prices. Both would cut the cost of providing prescribed medications.


In the end, the committee chose IHS. Several facts went into the committee's decision. Tammy Wilson, a nurse at the jail, said IHS packages prescription medications for each inmate, relieving the medical staff from having to retrieve each medication for each inmate in the midst of a busy jail where the nurse may be asked questions or called away while dispensing medicine.

"There is a high chance for error," Wilson told the committee.

When IHS packages the medications for inmates, there is a minute chance for error, Wilson said. The package is labeled with the inmate's name and contains one dose of all of the medications required by that person.

Once the committee voted to use IHS, Harmon said, "That's my 5 percent."

With a tight budget, department heads in Boyle County's government have to come up with 5 percent cuts of their departments' budgets. Harmon said he thought the savings could be found with IHS

The committee is made up of the judge-executives, county attorneys and treasurers of Boyle and Mercer counties and the Boyle County jailer. All but the two county treasurers are voting members.

How funding is based

The jail is funded on a basis of the percentage of local inmates from each county. Boyle County pays 62 percent of the operating costs and the debt on the jail's construction while Mercer County pays 38 percent.

The second issue the committee addressed was home incarceration. John Trifilio, president and CEO of CDA Electronic Monitoring, explained the service provided by the company at the committee's July meeting.

In the meantime, a contract between the committee and CDA has been worked out and the committee decided to accept the contract once the wording is changed to include Mercer County.

The home incarceration service will be administered by Harmon and jail personnel. The system can reduce jail costs by granting home incarceration to inmates with costly medical conditions. Boyle County Attorney Richard Campbell said the beginning fee of $40 must be obtained from the inmate before the service can be provided.

CDA does not charge the jail for system equipment that is not in use. The savings to the jail are not huge.

"This is not a great panacea, but it will help,'' Boyle Judge Executive Tony Wilder said.

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