Ombudsman Finds Problem With O’Brien County Jail’s Handling Of Health Expenses

Des Moines, Iowa — A report by the State Ombudsman’s Office has found that some county jails were not following Iowa law. It says that the O’Brien County Jail and three others were taking money directly out of inmate commissary accounts for medical care.

Ombudsman Bernardo Granwehr says Iowa law requires jails to go through the courts to recoup these co-pays.

Granwehr says this practice violates the prisoner’s due process rights.

Jails can charge adult inmates for medical services if they are convicted of a crime or sentenced for contempt of court for violating a domestic abuse order. But they still have to seek that money through the courts. They cannot remove it directly from a commissary account. The Ombudsman has attempted to bring jails in Wapello, Scott, and O’Brien counties into compliance with state law. But as of its release, those jails had not changed their policy. They also found an issue at the Mills County Jail, but they said that Mills County had changed their procedure.

(By Zachary Oren Smith, Iowa Public Radio)


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