Local News

Wake Sheriff Seeks Bigger Budget For Jail Health Care

Posted June 3, 2004 10:07 a.m. EDT

— Skyrocketing medical care costs are is a real problem in local jails. As the inmate population grows, so does the price tag for treating what ails them.

"If somebody needs medical attention, we're definitely going to provide it but we keep a running account," Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said.

Harrison is asking for more than $1 million in next year's budget just for health care.

"Our budget is $1.3 million for health costs for next year mainly because our inmate population is averaging over 200 a day from what it was last year," Harrison said.

The state is required to give the sheriff's office $40 a day to house inmates at the Wake County detention facility -- that amount includes medical costs.

Wake County commissioner Tony Gurley, a former pharmacist, says prescription drugs for inmates make up a sizeable portion of their medical expenses.

"Prescription drugs have increased about three times the rate of the general rate of inflation. It's a very expensive proposition," Gurley said.

Gurley is working to see if the state Department of Health and Human Services can work with county inmates. Harrison has implemented a $10 copay for inmates wanting to see a doctor or a nurse.