Nearly $1M inmate medical bill highlights problem for jails

Posted at 7:29 AM, Jul 30, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Medical bills for a Utah jail inmate are nearing $1 million, sparking the sheriff’s resignation and highlighting widespread struggles to pay for inmate health care.

Jails are required to provide inmates with necessary medical care, and the Salt Lake Tribune reports the cost of 49-year-old Gerardo Valerio Romero’s cancer treatment has outstripped the Utah County sheriff’s medical budget.

Faced with having to lay off employees or close jail beds to cover the cost, Sheriff Jim Tracy resigned July 3.

KUER radio reports authorities say Romero could be deported to Mexico if he’s released, but then he wouldn’t have to face the sex-abuse charges against him.

Romero’s lawyer says he’s innocent.

David Mahoney with the National Sheriffs’ Association says jails around the country are struggling with similar bills, particularly for treating mental illness.

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