Taxpayers swallow bill for inmates eating metal - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Jail bait

Taxpayers swallow bill for inmates eating metal

Razor blades wrapped in plastic, nails paper clips, cutlery – these are just a few of the objects prisoners have swallowed. (Photo: World Journal of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy) Razor blades wrapped in plastic, nails paper clips, cutlery – these are just a few of the objects prisoners have swallowed. (Photo: World Journal of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy)
This x-ray - taken with the Hamilton County jail's scan machine -- shows the screw an inmate recently swallowed. The screw is the dark spot circled in red. (Photo: Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office) This x-ray - taken with the Hamilton County jail's scan machine -- shows the screw an inmate recently swallowed. The screw is the dark spot circled in red. (Photo: Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

A strange problem in Ohio jails and prisons is sticking taxpayers with medical bills.

A FOX19 NOW investigation has looked into the problem of inmates intentionally eating metal objects.

Razor blades wrapped in plastic, nails paper clips, cutlery – these are just a few of the objects prisoners have swallowed.

There were 71 foreign body ingestions from July 2015 through March 2016, according to the latest numbers from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Some of these inmates have mental health issues, while others are looking for a vacation at the hospital, according to jail officials.

Jailers say inmates have taken hinges off doors, ingested prison-issue pens, even pieces of their own shoes.

"They'll take screws out of the wall, they'll dig out the metal bed, they'll dig the bed apart and they'll swallow that," said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

Major Charmaine McGuffey who runs the Hamilton County jail says this is a periodic, but expensive problem.

"That is taxpayer dollars, yes it is, and you can also add the medical costs in there, which taxpayers are paying for too," Major McGuffey told FOX19 NOW.

Dr. David Evans, a surgeon at The Ohio State University, has treated hundreds of Ohio prison inmates who've ingested foreign objects.

"We currently see two or three a month easily, if not more," Dr. Evans said.

Evans and several colleagues researched the problem in U.S. prisons and found it's costing millions.

"They get special treatment, they get the food of their choice. If they're male prisoners, they get to be around women," said Sheriff Jones.

Doctors say good psychiatric care for inmates dealing with mental health issues could help, along, of course, with vigilant guards.

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