Medical Co-Pay Required for Wichita Inmates

Monday, the Wichita County Commissioner's Court approved a medical co-pay system for inmates.

Under the current system, any inmate can request medical treatment and that can not only cost the taxpayers money, but it also takes the time of the jailors.

"If an inmate wants to get out of their cell, they say, I have a headache, that may be a lie, " says County Judge Woody Gossom, "But now, they have a skin in the game."

Wichita Sheriff David Duke agrees, "If they want to go see a doctor, dentist or nurse, by law we are able to charge them a co-pay for those services."

That co-pay is up to $15 for doctor visits and as little as $3 dollars for a dose of over the counter medicine. The money comes out of a Commissary Fund that is already set up for every inmate.

Judge Gossom explains, "An inmate commissary fund is kind of like an inmate bank account where they or their family put money in so they can buy things."

Things like clothes or snacks and now medical care. But, if inmates don't have the money, they will still receive treatment.

"No one will be denied medical care," states Judge Gossom.

The treatment can be costly, especially when the Sheriff says that a major problem are the pre-existing conditions that inmates come in with. No matter the condition, it is the responsibility of the county to give treatment.

"They may have cancer, but the county is responsible," says Sheriff Duke, "so we have to start treating these people and give them proper care while they are in our custody."

Sheriff Duke also says there are some medical conditions that can reduce the bond of inmates and get them out of jail more quickly. Yet the Sheriff was adamant in saying that no matter the condition, violent criminals will still be locked up and that public safety is the sheriff's main concern.

The new inmate co-pay system will take effect on November 1st.

Mary Moloney, Newschannel 6