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Inmates must pay own costs

NATCHEZ — Inmates in Concordia Parish will now have to pay partially out of pocket for medical treatment and medicine.

The Concordia Parish Police Jury adopted an ordinance at Monday’s regular meeting regulating the how much inmates pay for medical and prescription drugs.

The ordinance, drafted by District Attorney Brad Burget, requires inmates to pay a fee of $7 out of their commissary account for a doctor or nurse visit, a sick call, a hospital emergency room visit, dental exam or psychiatric exam and $7 for prescription medication.

Burget’s original draft included a $3 payment for prescription medication and EMT visits. The ordinance was adopted to change the $3 co-payment to $7.

The jury asked Burget to come up with a plan a year ago to help cover the cost of inmate medical expenses because the jury was formerly responsible for all such costs that occur.

Burget has said that while convicted felons are paid for by the state, criminals waiting to face trial in Concordia Parish are the responsibility of the police jury. Criminals serving parish time for misdemeanor crimes are also the jury’s responsibility.

Taking medical expenses out of prisoner’s commissary accounts will be a great help in preventing prisoners from wasting the jury’s money on unnecessary health care, Burget said.

“If they go to the doctor, they have to make the decision, do I want a Coke, or do I want to go to the doctor?” he said.

“This will be a deterrent so people do not needlessly go to the doctor.”

If a prisoner requires medical care, but does not have enough money in their commissary account, the prisoner’s account will go into a negative balance until more money is added into the account, Burget said.

Juror Joe Parker made the motion to adopt the ordinance. The vote passed unanimously.

The jury entered into executive session for approximately 45 minutes before voting on the ordinance.

Also from Monday’s meeting:

• The jury unanimously approved a community water enrichment grant application for Concordia Waterworks.

Jury President Melvin Ferrington said the application is due Feb. 1.

If approved, the $50,000 in grant funds will help improve the quality and accessibility of drinking water in Vidalia.

• The board unanimously approved granting Jacqueline F. Montgomery an occupational license for her company, Le Style, an Internet business for decorative accessories.

The business is located at 5155 Louisiana 568 in Ferriday.

• The jury voted unanimously to reappoint Jerry Stallings and Ray Skates to the Airport Authority Board.

• Ferrington made a motion to send a letter to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries concerning controlling the beaver population.

He said the letter would ask the department what kinds of permits it might issue before deciding if it wants to take measures to trap beavers.

Juror Ronnie Temple said the parish used to offer a bounty fee for trapped beavers, but it was difficult to determine if the beavers were trapped in the parish.

Ferrington said the jury might consider eventually giving one of its existing employees the job of “beaver control.”

If the parish decides to offer a bounty, the parish would seek to make sure the beaver came from areas in the parish where they are causing drainage problems, Ferrington said.

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