AP NEWS

Mohave County Sheriff requests more funding to treat sick inmates

May 14, 2019

Mohave County inmates have been sicker this year, according to jail officials, prompting a request by the sheriff’s office for $100,000 in additional jail funding.

“The jail has experienced an extraordinary influx of inmate medical care during the current fiscal year that has exceeded the budgeted amount,” Schuster wrote in his request to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors. “In order to pay claims that are outstanding and get through the rest of the fiscal year, the funds are needed under the capital line item to cover expenses.”

About $110,000 in contingency funding is available to the sheriff’s office for such scenarios, according to Schuster, who says $100,000 should be enough to cover inmates’ medical expenses for the remainder of the fiscal year.

According to Mohave County Jail Capt. Don Bischoff, budgeting for inmates’ medical treatment can be a guessing game. Under Title 31 of Arizona’s Revised Statutes, Mohave County must provide health care services to its inmates – even if that means transporting those inmates to community hospitals for such treatment. And those costs can add up.

“Over the last year we’ve seen an increase in unhealthy and sick inmates, and it’s costing us more,” Bischoff said. “When we have to send inmates into the community for care, or to the ER, it causes extra expenses. We’ve had inmates with seizures, chronic conditions, dialysis problems, cardiac problems and diabetes … a lot of these people have had medical issues before, but didn’t treat them. If these issues were present when they were placed in our care, we have to treat them.”

According to Bischoff, persistent medical issues often chip away at the Jail’s budget – and potential use of drugs smuggled into the facility could pose another unwanted expense. Costs are still being tallied in reference to five Mohave County inmates who were transported to Kingman Regional Medical Center last month, after allegedly overdosing on synthetic opioid medication.

“We try to budget for what we think we’ll need,” Bischoff said. “But as long as inmates are in our custody, we have to care for them.”

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote next Monday on whether to approve Schuster’s request for additional jail funding.