Aldermen approve inmate medical fee

Published 6:00 am Friday, March 10, 2006

Town inmates at the Lawrence County Jail will now pay a”nominal” fee for doctor’s visits under a Monticello Board ofAldermen plan approved Tuesday.

The town is required by law to take inmates to the doctor oremergency room when the inmate complains of illness or injury. Thelaw also requires governmental entities to pay for the visit.

“It is legal to charge the inmate $10 to take them to a doctor’sor emergency room visit,” said Mayor Dave Nichols.

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The fee would be removed from the inmate’s canteen fund at thejail, he said.

The fund is designed for relatives and friends to provide moneyto the inmate to purchase hygiene items and snacks from the jail’scanteen. Inmates are prohibited from having cash in the jail.

The fee is considered a co-payment by the state, Nichols said,and would be used to help reduce the town’s medical expenses andoffset the cost of transportation.

Primarily, however, Nichols said he hopes the fee will serve asa deterrent to inmates who request unnecessary medicaltreatment.

Aldermen expressed concern that inmates would not be treatedwhen necessary if they did not have the fee.

“You’re not going to deny anyone medical treatment by doingthis,” Nichols said. “We have to take them (when they requestit).”

In other matters, the board designated a 2006 Land Rover as anexecutive vehicle. The sports utility vehicle was donated to thetown by Land Rover of Baton Rouge as part of a program to assistcommunities damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

The Land Rover will be used by city personnel in the course oftheir duties in the town and to transport them to trainingseminars.

There was some discussion by the board on giving the Land Roverto the police department, but Police Chief David Stanley said itwas not equipped nor designed for police work and could pose adanger to officers.

“It’s narrow and top-heavy so it couldn’t be used in pursuitsand it’s not equipped to transport prisoners,” Stanley said. “Wewould love to have it, but we really don’t have a use for it.”