Inmate's 'fall' highlights jail's medical cost woes

, Posted: Mon, March 17 2014 at 10:41 PM, Updated: Mon, March 17 2014 at 10:46 PM

Inmate's 'fall' highlights jail's medical cost woes

Grants Pass, Ore. -- (Grants Pass Daily Courier) Highlighting the high cost of health care for inmates, authorities say a female prisoner at the Josephine County Jail recently faked a fall and then paralysis in an ill-advised effort to win her release.

The bill to have her checked out at the hospital might come to $20,000.

The inmate is Karrie L. Butcher, 31, of Medford, who is accused of being the getaway driver in the Jan. 28 armed robbery of the 6th Street Coffee & Deli in downtown Grants Pass. Her companion, 35-year-old Edward L. Adams, was recently sentenced to seven years in prison. Butcher's alleged fall came up during a bail hearing last week.

Her attorney, Deborah Cumming, told Judge Thomas Hull that her client was requesting a reduction or even elimination of bail because her high-starch diet at the jail was affecting her already damaged kidneys.

Cumming also told the court that Butcher had a limited criminal history involving a lone prior conviction for eluding and no failure-to-appear misadventures. She also had a place to stay with family members, and her father was willing to pay for an ankle bracelet to monitor her whereabouts.

"There is no reason to believe she won't be in court," Cumming said.

However, prosecutor Lisa Turner objected, saying Butcher would do "anything" to get out of custody.

As an example, Turner told the court how Butcher "threw herself down the stairs" and feigned paralysis the day after the Daily Courier published a story about the jail being forced to release inmates with serious health care needs, due to budget concerns.

The 262-bed jail already operates at less than half its capacity due to budget woes, and authorities say the lack of space along with soaring health care costs are having an impact on public safety.

After Butcher's fall, she was taken to the hospital and tested, the cost of which was $15,000 to $20,000, according to Turner. The tests turned up nothing.

Jail officials said that at one point, after Butcher complained her legs were paralyzed, a corrections deputy came around a corner and saw her standing. In the courtroom, Butcher stood and walked without incident.

Hull, without comment, ruled that bail would remain at $100,000.

Meanwhile, taxpayers will foot the bill for Butcher's medical bills, even though she has private insurance.

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