Hunt Raises Jail Cost Concerns at Commissioners Meeting

Morley says he’ll meet with Sheriff to review concerns

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COUDERSPORT – Roy Hunt, a corrections officer at the Potter County Jail and former candidate for Sheriff, raised concerns regarding the jail’s upkeep costs at today’s meeting of the Potter County Commissioners.

Costs to continue running the jail, including costs incurred by housing female prisoners outside the county, are expected to increase by $270,000 this year from $1.1 million to $1.37 million.

The increase in costs was cited as a primary factor in a recent 1 mill tax increase in the county.

Hunt, who says as Sheriff he will stop wasteful and careless spending and be proactive in reducing recidivism rates, asked the Commissioners what could be done about the increased budget and if they were looking into ways to cut spending.

Commissioner Morley told Hunt the budget had been prepared with recommendations by the Sheriff and Assistant Warden. Morley said the increase in jail costs were “driven by female population, which has to be outsourced.” He went on to say the county needed to plan for such expenses, as a shortfall in revenue would make it difficult for the county to meet its obligations. Morley noted the Commissioners have no control over increases in judicial system costs.

Hunt then asked the Commissioners what they would do about costs they did have control over, citing prescription medication and food expenses. Hunt said many of the inmates come in without prescriptions, but once in jail are prescribed medications that are costly to the county. Hunt also criticized the amount and type of food served to the inmates.

The Commissioners made note that Doctors make the decision in prescribing medication and that it wasn’t a matter of generic drugs versus brand name drugs, but a matter of the inmates receiving them or not receiving them. Commissioner Heimel said, “the use of generics versus brand name drugs, we’ve been all over that for a long time.”  Heimel went on to say the biggest rise in costs correlates to the number of people who end up going to jail in Potter County.

Commissioner Morley said the jail has a cost-savings plan in place and that a nurse was brought in to offset medical costs.

Commissioner Susan Kefover told Hunt they are always looking at ways to decrease costs and recidivism rates.

When we asked the Commissioners if they had considered housing female prisoners within the county, we were told the idea has been discussed in general, but has not been shown to be cost-effective for the county.

Hunt also brought up concerns about county paychecks being mailed rather than picked up.

Morley stated he would set a meeting with the Sheriff and Assistant Warden to review Hunt’s concerns.

The Potter County Commissioners are scheduled to meet again on January 26.

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