Defendants Charged With Violent Offenses Being Released Because Sheriffs Don’t Want To Pay Their Medical Bills
Sheriff departments across America defend "medical bonds" because they help keep health costs under control. But an investigation in Alabama shows that even defendants who have been charged with serious crimes like murder are being put back on the streets because of the practice.
What Happens When Sheriffs Release Violent Offenders To Avoid Paying Their Medical Bills
Sheriffs across Alabama and the U.S. regularly find ways to release sick and injured inmates from county jails to avoid paying for their hefty hospital bills, a practice often referred to as medical bond that AL.com and ProPublica reported in September. Some sheriffs defend the practice as a way to keep jail medical costs down while allowing people who aren’t a threat to society to access care. In Alabama, it’s now clear that some of those inmates were in jail awaiting trial on charges that they’d committed violent crimes, even murder, AL.com and ProPublica have found. (Sheets, 12/31)
How Some Sheriffs Force Their Inmates Into Medical Debt
In Alabama, the county in which you’re arrested could be the deciding factor in who will be financially responsible for your medical bills behind bars. In Baldwin County, known for its white-sand Gulf Coast beaches and waterfront communities, the sheriff’s office ensures that inmates in the county jail do not have to pay anything more than a $15 copayment for medical care. “Inmates are not billed for the full cost of any medical care either inside or outside” the jail, Sheriff Hoss Mack said in an email. (Sheets, 12/26)