BCDC Gets Funding For HIV/AIDS Meds

Federal Funding Could Save Regional Jail–And Taxpayers–$125,000 A Year

Robert Moore

Herald Staff

rmoore@harrodsburgherald.com

Boyle County Detention Center is one of the first jails in Kentucky to qualify for federal funding to purchase HIV/AIDS medication for state and county inmates.

Boyle County Jailer Brian Wofford said the two counties pay $72,000 to $150,000 in HIV/AIDS medications every year.

The funding comes from  the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and HIV/AIDS Bureau.

The federal funds will be administered by UK Care Clinic.

“That is absolutely big, big news,” said Boyle County Judge-Executive Howard Hunt at last week’s meeting of the Mercer-Boyle Joint Jail Committee. “This is huge. This is really a big plus for the detention center.”

Even though few inmates at BCDC have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, the costs of the medication—which courts have ruled must be paid by jails along with other medical expenses while the inmates are in custody—are so astronomical that the savings can add up quickly. Wofford said the medication costs around $3,000 a month, meaning, depending on the number of inmates and how long they stay at BCDC, the jail could save as much as $125,000 a year on medication costs.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Mercer County Fiscal Court, County Attorney Ted Dean told the magistrates—who had just approved transferring a quarter of a million dollars to pay for jail expenditures—that getting funding was good for the budget.

“We have to provide that medical care for them while they’re in our custody,” Dean told the fiscal court.

On Friday, officials from the Kentucky Department of Corrections talked about  a pretrial substance abuse program (PSAP) for both male and female offenders. The current SAP is only offered to male state inmates. PSAP would be available to county inmates, but the state would pay for it.

Veronica Hunt of the Kentucky Department of Corrections, said PSAP is  a pretrial diversion program available to county and state inmates who have not been convicted of a felony within the last 10 years. Entrance depends on availability of beds. Court officers—pretrial officer, judge, prosecutor or defense attorneys—can recommend nonviolent offenders who have not committed a sexual offense.

Offenders in PSAP are always in custody. If they quit, they are released from PSAP but are still in jail.

“They’re going to serve time. But instead of six months of doing nothing, they’re going to get treatment,” Wofford said.

Officials learned there was a sweet spot where the best chances of successfully completing treatment is concerned. Those facing long sentences upon completion of PSAP have little incentive for getting clean, said Veronica Hunt, while inmates facing light sentences have little incentive to enter PSAP.

The program works best for inmates who have a good reason to participate, she said.

Hunt recommended officials contact other counties—including Hardin County—that offer PSAP to see how it works.

Wofford said he and his staff are still moving forward with offering female inmates SAP. He said they had submitted an application with the state to pay for female SAP. The state will pay $9 per day per inmate per treatment.

The next meeting of the Mercer-Boyle Joint Jail Boyle Committee will be Friday, Feb. 7, at 2:30 p.m. at the Mercer County Fiscal Courthouse.

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