Utah County officials have decided that it would be better to pay the hospital bills of a jail inmate injured during an escape attempt than to waste time and money pursuing a judgment against the man.
Melvin Smith, 30, Lehi, attempted to escape from the county jail on Sept. 5 by climbing a 30-foot wall with tied bed sheets and then jumping off the other side. However, when Smith landed he broke both ankles and had to be transferred to Mountain View Hospital in Payson. Smith remained hospitalized for three days.Utah County recently received a bill for Smith's hospital stay with expenses totaling $5,618.50. Deputy county attorney Jeril Wilson brought the issue before county commissioners Monday and asked for direction in dealing with the matter. Commissioners asked Wilson to determine if Smith had enough assets to make collection efforts worthwhile.
Wednesday Wilson said jail officials believe Smith has very little property and will likely be incarcerated until July. Wilson recommended that the county not pursue action against Smith. Though not wanting taxpayers to bear the burden of paying expenses incurred by an inmate, commissioners agreed with Wilson's recommendation.
"If we have the opportunity to recover losses, then we ought to pursue the matter with great vigor. But we shouldn't throw good money after bad," Commissioner Gary Herbert said.