§7-8-2. Sheriff to be keeper of jail; appointment of jailer; care of jail; authorizing county commissions and municipalities to seek reimbursement of medical care and certain clothing provided by county jails.
(a) The sheriff of every county shall be the keeper of the jail thereof, but he may, with the assent of the county commission, appoint a jailer of the said county, and may take from him a bond with security conditioned for the faithful performance of his duties. The jailer may be a deputy sheriff and shall take an oath of office like other officers. He shall keep the jail in a clean, sanitary and healthful condition. When any prisoner is sick the jailer shall see that he has adequate medical and dental attention and nursing, and so far as possible keep him separate from other prisoners. Any such medical and nursing care as the jailer may be required to furnish shall be paid for by the county commission. A failure on the part of the jailer to perform any of the duties herein required with respect to any prisoner in his jail shall be a contempt of any court of record under whose commitment such prisoner is confined, and shall be punished as other contempts of such court. The jailer or his agents are authorized to inquire of every prisoner at any time whether he has medical insurance or is covered by a public medical benefit, to further inquire of the prisoner sufficient information to enable the county commission to seek reimbursement of health care costs as provided by this section and to take an assignment of the right to reimbursement from said third parties.
(b) The county commission is hereby authorized to seek reimbursement from every person who receives medical, dental, hospital or eye care or any type of nursing care while incarcerated in the jail at the rate at which the care is generally available in the community for those persons not incarcerated, from their private health care insurers, if any, to the extent of the coverage in effect, from any public agency then providing medical benefits to the person incarcerated to the extent that said public agency would have reimbursed the cost of the care rendered if the person receiving the care was not then incarcerated so long as said reimbursement is not inconsistent with the lawful provisions of the agency's benefit program, or from persons who are liable pursuant to section twenty-two, article three, chapter forty-eight of this code: Provided, That no reimbursement for care shall be required when any medical, dental, hospital or eye care or any type of nursing care has been rendered for injuries or illnesses sustained as a result of an act by another prisoner, injuries or illnesses sustained where an act or omission by the jailer or any deputy sheriff has been a contributing factor, or injuries or illnesses resulting from fire or other catastrophic hazard, all without fault on the part of the prisoner: Provided, however, That no reimbursement for the care received from the person receiving the care or from the person made liable for the care by section twenty-two, article three, chapter forty-eight of this code shall be sought unless that person is able to pay without undue hardship considering the financial resources of the person, the ability to pay of the person and the nature of the burden that reimbursement will impose: Provided further, That the determination of undue hardship by the commission does not preclude the commission from subsequently ordering reimbursement should the person's financial circumstances change: And provided further, That whenever the county commission seeks reimbursement from a municipality for medical, dental, hospital, eye or nursing care authorized by this subsection then the municipality shall also be hereby authorized to seek reimbursement as provided for in this subsection for counties under the same conditions.
(c) The county commission is hereby authorized to seek reimbursement from every prisoner for the costs of any shoes and clothing furnished by the jailer and retained by the prisoner after his release from incarceration: Provided, That no reimbursement for the goods authorized by this subsection shall be sought unless the former prisoner is able to pay without undue hardship, considering the financial resources of the person, said persons ability to pay and the nature of the burden that reimbursement will impose: Provided, however, That the determination of undue hardship by the county commission does not preclude the county commission from subsequently ordering repayment should the financial circumstances of such person change: Provided further, That whenever the county commission seeks reimbursement from a municipality for the goods then the municipality shall also be hereby authorized to seek reimbursement for the goods authorized by this subsection as provided for in this subsection for counties under the same conditions.
(d) Subject to any statutes of limitation, if reimbursement pursuant to this section was sought at or within a reasonable time after the release from incarceration of the person receiving the goods or care and if the reimbursement authorized by this section has not been received within one year the county commission or municipality, as the case may be, may prosecute a civil action against any liable person and against any insurer or agency the assignment of whose obligation to pay for care was obtained by the jailer. Any funds paid to or collected by the county commission or municipality pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be deposited to its general fund.