Stoddard County sheriff responds to critical audit report

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BLOOMFIELD, Mo. -- A recent audit report released for Stoddard County was somewhat misleading, Stoddard County Sheriff Carl Hefner told the Daily Statesman newspaper.

The report stated the department was unable to "reconcile cash balances to the individual inmate account balances and other related liabilities."

While that is true, the statement is somewhat misleading and doesn't tell the whole story, Hefner said.

Hefner said he feels the report makes it sound like officials are not giving inmates their money, and that, he said, is simply not true.

In actuality, the department has been working hard to return money to some inmates who have never returned for their check.

Hefner explained that when a person is incarcerated, they deposit money into an account, including any money they have on them at the time. That money is then used to make commissary purchases for things they need while in jail, for instance, razors, snacks, sodas, deodorant, soap, etc.

When a person is released from jail, they are then given a check for the remaining balance in their account.

The only time they might not be issued a check is if they are released when either the business manager or Hefner are not in the office. In that case, the inmates are told to come back during business hours and a check will be written for them. If traveling to the jail is not feasible, the department has also mailed checks to former inmates, Hefner explained.

One of the biggest problems, Hefner said, is that many of these people have no permanent address, move often, don't want to be found because of outstanding warrants, or simply don't care because it's not a lot of money.

Most cases where money has been left are as much as just a few dollars to as little as one cent.

The sheriff is planning to send out letters once again in an effort to try and get some of the people to pick up their money.

"It's not that we don't have their money," he said. "It's here for them if they'll just come by and get it."

Hefner stated there has never been a complaint by an inmate regarding not getting their money, because of all the paperwork involved in getting it and using it.

When an inmate makes a deposit, receipts come in triplicate to the inmate, the office and the head jailer. When the money is spent, inmates receive an order sheet with the amounts on it and they know how much they have to spend. After they make their purchase, they receive the sheet back with the remaining balance on the sheet as well.

Hefner said he really just wanted to clear the air because he felt like the report made it look like there was some wrongdoing, and he felt that an explanation would help.

"We're not stealing any money," he said. "If it was left, it's still here."

He added that some of the money even dates back to prior administrations.

Anyone who thinks they may have money remaining at the jail is encouraged to either call or stop by the jail between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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