Running the county jail is an expensive proposition: $2.6 million a year in inmate medical costs alone, the Durham County commissioners heard this morning.
Correct Care Solutions, LLC, the company that looks after guests in the big white building by the railroad tracks, was making a pitch for more money at the commissioners' work session. The company's presentation brought out some interesting points, like:
- Pharmaceuticals alone cost about $192,000 a year;
- A few patients can skew the curve, thanks to the high cost of, say, HIV drugs;
- One inmate spent nine months in county custody at an average cost of $77,000 per month;
- Some inmates have better odds of getting well in jail than out of it.
At least, that last was the opinion of a judge, according to Correct Care, who told a prisoner to stay in jail until his treatment was finished.
"That's nice, isn't it?" said commissioner Becky Heron.
County Manager Mike Ruffin pointed out that some inmates have resided on the taxpayers' nickel for more than five years. That's due, among other things, to legal maneuvering, judicial delay and high bail.
Even reducing bail doesn't always help, said county health director Gayle Harris: some inmates have opted to stay in jail instead of posting bond and leaving.
Heron responded; "We're running the downtown Hilton here, is that it?"