Darren Doyle, story
Sheriff Shane Doyle gave a very blunt description in fiscal court today of the way that he sees Hart County Jail inmates and suspects in custody abusing the system and racking up thousands of dollars in medical bills that the county is being required to pay.
"We've basically got half of everybody we arrest saying there's something wrong with them and they need to go to the hospital," Doyle said. "Sometimes, they don't need anything more than a band-aid, if that."
He said by law, if an inmate or suspect in custody requests medical attention or says they need to go to the hospital, the county is required to not only see that they get there, but either the jailer or a sheriff's deputy has to stay with them until they are treated and released. In addition, the county must cover all expenses from each visit.
"Recently, Deputy Jones arrested a man and placed him in the back seat of his cruiser. The suspect began banging his head up against the cage in the car until he had a cut on his forehead," Doyle pleaded. "The suspect starts yelling he has to go to the hospital, and a band-aid would've been more than enough. It was basically a scratch. So, Deputy Jones had to transport him to the hospital and stay tied up until this guy got a band-aid in the emergency room. And this was for banging his own head," he said, clearly frustrated.
Doyle said having manpower tied up in a hospital room when a particular injury doesn't warrant a hospital visit is difficult enough, however, it's happened when there was only one deputy on duty.
"We've been in discussion with Rep. Meredith and he's in the process of preparing something that can possibly be taken to legislature," Doyle added.
"There are some guys that get arrested and they grab their chest and complain of chest pains. They weren't having chest pains when they were driving drunk or coming through a road safety check with drugs, but you put hand cuffs on them and all the sudden they're having a heart attack and they have to go to the hospital. They're not having a heart attack, they just don't want to go to jail. This is a ridiculous burden on the county."
Doyle said until something can be done to change the law, his plan was to organize a meeting with the Hart County jailer and other county officials to see if they could help cut down on unnecessary medical treatment.
"Thankfully, our jailer, Hank Vincent, was able to stay with one of the guys the other night. If not, we'd have had no deputy on duty because they'd be sitting in a hospital, waiting until an emergency room doctor told the suspect there was nothing wrong with him."
He said if nothing was changed, the county's hands were tied.
"We're in contract with Hart County. We're at their mercy," he said.