Crime doesn’t pay, but it costs taxpayers a whole lot

Published 11:35 pm Friday, January 12, 2018

The cost to Lincoln County for housing inmate Willie Cory Goldbolt will continue to climb, even though the man accused of shooting to death eight people in May has not yet been indicted.

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors earlier this month approved an item for medical care for the December docket for $28,653 to the Gulf Guaranty Employee Benefit Services which partners with the Mississippi Association of Supervisors as a third-party administrator of the MAS Inmate Medical Cost Containment Program.

The more than $28,000 charge is the portion the county pays on medical bills for county inmates. The Mississippi Department of Corrections covers the cost of medical care for state inmates.

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That’s a big jump from the regular listing on the monthly docket of claims. It was $5,000 in December, $10,500 in November and $9,300 in October, said County Administrator David Fields.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said the increased claim for December came because, like traditional insurance, the bills are sometimes settled with Gulf Guaranty after several months of processing. In the case of December, the amount was for the medical care of 12 inmates and the bills came from a period of about six months. However, Rushing said half of that cost came from just one inmate. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, known as HIPPA, prevents Rushing from naming the inmate.

It’s likely, however, that it’s Godbolt, who was shot by one of his alleged victims May 28 and treated for his injuries at University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Rushing said the bills for that inmate amounted to about $40,000 but through the MAS partnership with Gulf Guaranty it was reduced to about $10,000 because the county gets a Medicaid rate.

Another expense to the county for Godbolt is the $28 a day that’s paid for housing him in Copiah County. For the seven and a half months he’s been incarcerated without bail, it’s cost Lincoln County about $6,300.

In September, supervisors earmarked $85,000 in their $20 million budget for court expenses for the 2017-2018 year for the capital murder trial if Godbolt is indicted.

Since the case has not come before a grand jury yet, Fields believes it’s unlikely the county will use that in this budget year. If that’s the case, he said it will likely be rolled over when supervisors vote on the 2018-2019 budget.

Godbolt was charged with one count of capital murder and seven counts of first degree murder. Godbolt’s case likely won’t be presented to the grand jury until his file — containing witness statements, recordings, written statements, any kind of identification procedures and forensic evidence such as autopsy reports, DNA testing, fingerprints or ballistics testing — is complete.

“Once they get all of that information put together, they will turn that completed file over to the prosecutor’s office and at that point, the prosecutor would then present their case to the next available grand jury,” Harrison County District Attorney Joel Smith said. “The formal charging comes after you present the information in front of the grand jury. The timing of that can vary depending on the complexity of the investigation and the complexity of any testing. Prosecutors want the evidence to be completed prior to presenting the case to the grand jury.”

A shortage of manpower at the Mississippi Crime Lab could slow down that process even more.