Costs growing for taxpayers to cover Spokane Co. inmates' medical costs

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by HAYLEY GUENTHNER

NWCN.com

Posted on December 18, 2012 at 7:20 AM

Updated Saturday, Nov 23 at 8:42 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- It's an expense the county cannot avoid, but it's one that's rapidly increasing. In fact, this year, Spokane County anticipates spending more than ever on medical costs for prisoners.

In just two years, the amount has doubled. This year, taxpayers are expect to pay about $2 million.

That's not because jail population is on the rise. Staff said they're seeing more inmates coming in with very serious issues, like the neeed for a heart valve replacement.

KREM 2 asked if the county would ever release someone in need expensive treatment.

"We'll try to," said Lt. Dan Veloski. "We'll look at their criminal charges. If its just a small misdemeanor or nonviolent offense, we'll contact the public defender and the judge to see if we can get them released or furloughed from jail. That way they can get the medical care on the outside themselves."

Jail officials say if there's anywhere in the budget they can cut back. They say every corner that can be cut already is. KREM 2 also asked if the jail sees inmates commit crimes just to see a doctor. That's something staff said they won't rule out.

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