I do not really see the point in this except to make things even harder on poor people. The possible savings that might be gained (accounting for oversight, etc) will be tiny compared to the overall budget we have for building new prisons in Georgia.
Inmates should help pay for medicine
By Carlos Campos The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Published on: 12/08/06
Prison inmates in Georgia might have to start chipping in for the cost of their medication. The Department of Corrections plans to ask Georgia legislators to approve a bill that would require inmates to make a co-payment for their prescription drugs. The state spends about $25 million a year on inmate medication, prison officials said Thursday at a Board of Corrections meeting. Inmates in Georgia don’t earn money, but they have debit accounts into which friends and relatives can make deposits. Inmates use the money in prison commissaries to buy tobacco, snack foods, stationery, toiletries and other goods they can keep in their cells. Any inmate with an account of $10 or more will be required to help pay for his prescriptions. Assistant Commissioner Brian Owens said the co-pay amount has not been determined but said it would likely be “nominal.” No inmates would be denied medication if they cannot pay, Owens emphasized. Corrections spokeswoman Yolanda Thompson said more than 36 percent of the state’s prison inmates are considered indigent. Owens said the department worked closely with in-house lawyers and medical providers to make sure the plan would be fair and withstand any potential court challenges. Corrections Commissioner James Donald said the co-pay would help inmates learn responsibility and would lessen the burden on taxpayers who foot the $1 billion annual tab for the state prison system. The idea was presented to the Corrections board on Thursday as part of the agency’s annual legislative wish list. The General Assembly meets beginning Jan. 8 for 40 business days. The idea seemed to go over well with Board of Corrections members. But it upset inmate relatives and friends, who are the ones who contribute to those accounts. Many noted that they, too, are honest taxpayers often punished for the unlawful actions of their loved ones. Pam Cobb, whose stepson is serving time at Central State Prison in Macon, said she opposes the proposed co-pay. She suggested the Department of Corrections begin paying inmates for their work inside prisons if they hoped to charge them for prescriptions. “Where do the inmates get their money from?” Cobb said. “They get it from people who have been taxed already. It’s kind of like the families are being double-taxed.