Criminals run up county tabOfficials are wondering how to cover the bills four Alabama fugitives are running up for Stark County. The cost for hospital security for two of the fugitives, charged with conspiring to commit murder and robbery, is already well over $26,000.
By: Ashley Martin, The Dickinson Press
Officials are wondering how to cover the bills four Alabama fugitives are running up for Stark County. The cost for hospital security for two of the fugitives, charged with conspiring to commit murder and robbery, is already well over $26,000.
And this may just be the beginning.
“Our general fund is going to take a hit, there’s not doubt about it,” said Duane “Bucky” Wolf, Stark County commissioner.
Ashton Mink, 22, and Jacquelin Mink, 25, were transported to hospitals after reportedly running out of a garage shooting during a standoff near Gladstone June 6. Law enforcement returned fire, injuring them, according to reports. Ashton Mink was reportedly shot in the hip and hand, while Jacquelin Mink was shot in the chest.
Both were transported to hospitals. Ashton Mink was released from the hospital and transported to the Southwest Multi County Correction Center Tuesday and Jacquelin Mink was enroute there Friday.
Angela Mink, 25, and Joshua Southwick, 26, surrendered during the standoff.
It cost the county $30 per hour, per fugitive to provide around-the-clock supervision at the hospitals for the fugitives, Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said.
It costs the county about $60 a day per inmate at the SWMCCC, Wolf said.
However, because of “safety concerns,” Ashton Mink has more security than most inmates, said Ken Rooks, operations director at the SWMCCC.
It costs up to $460 a day since security staff is with him 24 hours, Rooks said.
He said Ashton Mink also meets with the facility’s nursing staff about six times a day. Though that does not cost extra.
It’s unclear how the fugitives’ medical expenses will be covered, but Wolf said the county may have to pay those, as well.
The county is exploring options for covering the bills, including getting Dickinson involved, Wolf said.
Ashton Mink and Southwick reportedly escaped from an Alabama prison before coming to North Dakota and Angela and Jacquelin Mink are believed to have aided in the escape.
Officials may also look into whether the prison they escaped from can help with expenses, Wolf said.
“Being that it’s a private facility that they were housed in, maybe there’s some liability there,” Wolf said.
But the county might just have to bite the bullet and open its pocketbook.
“We have no other choice if that becomes the reality that we’re stuck with those bills,” Wolf said. “It’s going to be tough going for us, but we have to make it work.”
He said county projects may be impacted.
“It’s worrisome,” Wolf said.
It may seem easier to ship the fugitives back to Alabama and have them pay the bills, but Tom Henning, Stark County state’s attorney, said that’s not the way things work.
“They are accused of having committed serious criminal offenses in our jurisdiction,” Henning said. “We’re not overlooking that.”
What happens to the fugitives after they’ve had their trials in Stark County is up in the air, Henning said.
“They can be sent to Alabama in order to be tried on their charges down there,” Henning said. “It most likely depends on what Alabama chooses to do.”
He said if they serve time in Alabama, when their sentences are complete, North Dakota can transport them back there and have them serve their sentences here, as well.
More severe charges
The severity of the charges against the four may increase, Henning said.
“I erroneously accused them of only an A Felony, instead of an AA,” Henning said.
All four are charged with conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit robbery.
He plans to amend the charges within the next few weeks.
A Class AA felony carries a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole. A Class A felony carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Henning said more charges may be filed, but he wouldn’t say what charges he was looking into.