Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sheriff's Office criticized over inmates' Social Security benefits

The following was information provided to The Sun-Sentinel regarding this story but not included in their reporting, as well as clarifications to the facts contained in the story dated January 16, 2008.

"...The Broward Sheriff's Office collects $400 every time the Social Security Administration learns about and suspends benefits for inmates within 30 days of their incarceration."

CORRECTION: As was explained to the Sun-Sentinel reporter, BSO does not keep ANY money connected to the suspension of benefits. The money is sent by the Federal government and forwarded to the County government. This is because the jail belongs to the county, and BSO operates the jail for the county.

Also told to the reporter, who made the decision not to include in the story, is the fact that BSO was the one that approached social security four years ago to set up a system to track inmates' benefits. At the time, social security was not able to work with BSO. Therefore, BSO instead, on its own, developed a system to assist inmates in the the jail's mental health unit who may have their benefits suspended by the federal government.

"...If they're turning the spigot off, they can help turn it back on, too," said Doug Brawley, a chief assistant public defender.

CLARIFICATION:As was also explained to the reporter, BSO does not have anything to do with the suspension of federal social security benefits. BSO does not send social security any kind of a list of inmates, and BSO is not notified by social security when an inmates benefits have been suspended. Often, by the time BSO finds out an inmate has had benefits suspened, the inmate has already been released from custody.

Also told to the reporter, and included in the competing story on this subject in the Miami Herald is the fact that BSO would welcome individuals from Social Security into the jail to help assist inmates with their benefits.