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County Council November 9

Auditors find some minor theft
And report favorably on jail inmate health care services

Warwick Jones

Last night's meeting was essentially about criminals - the Internal Auditor noted theft in his report for the 3 month period to November 2, and the Criminal Justice Institute reported on its audit of the inmate health care services at the County Jail.

The Internal Auditor caught some employees with their "hands in the till". Two were employed in the County Parking garages downtown, the other at the Bees Ferry landfill.

In relation to the Parking Garages, the Director of Internal Audit commented “management detected irregularities for one of the garage cashiers. During our investigation, we also noted irregularities for another cashier. Based on a review, we estimated a loss off at least $3,897 for one cashier and at least $221 for the other cashier. Due to the large volume of transactions for the parking garages, a significant amount of documentation had been destroyed or overwritten and was not available. Hence there is a possibility of additional losses that were not discovered. The cashier representing the greater loss was charged and arrested by the Sheriff's department and the other cashier's employment was terminated..

The situation in relation to the Landfill was more complex and involved collusion with a customer. The employee took $1000 in cash from a customer in lieu of the $1681 fee and kept the cash. She also forged a check for $2500 from a landfill customer account and made it payable to herself. She has been charged with a Breach of Trust with fraudulent intent and also for the possession of marijuana.

The internal auditor made recommendations to the County to tighten up procedures to ensure there was no repetition of these practices.

Doing an "excellent job" on inmate care
The presentation on Healthcare services at the County jail was made by Criminal Justice Institute. This non- profit group completed an audit of inmate healthcare practices and the presentation essentially related to this audit. One of the purposes of the audit was to better prepare the Council for decision next year on the provision for health care at the jail. The current contract will expire on January 15. The County has called for bids, but it is possible, though unlikely, that it could choose to provide the services itself

In summary, the consultants thought the County was doing a good job.

"We found that the County Council Detention Facility is providing a community standard of care to its inmates. The staff and administration of the Charleston County Sheriff's office are doing an excellent job and exhibited appropriate levels of care and concern about the quality of care been provided."

The consultant also noted the large rise in costs in recent years but attributed this to the general rise in health costs, greater utilization of inpatient care and dialysis services, and a higher incidence of serious illness in the inmate population.

Cost per inmate in middle of range for comparable jail sizes
The average cost of provision of health care services to the jail was equal to $5.77 a day per inmate. This figure was in the middle of the range when compared with jails surveyed in other parts of the nation and of comparable size. In that survey, Lexington (Kentucky) at $8.99 per inmate was the highest, and Gwinnet (Georgia) at $4.89 per inmate, the lowest. However, amongst the South Carolina jails surveyed, the values ranged from $6.79 per inmate at Beaufort to $2.46 at Berkeley County.

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