BOSTON — A state audit of the Bristol County Sheriff's Office has found several deficiencies in its financial management and reporting processes.

The audit, performed by State Auditor Suzanne Bump, focused on the period of July 1, 2015 through December 31, 2017.

The audit found that the Bristol County Sheriff's Office improperly transferred $348,922 in reimbursements from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement back to the Office of the State Treasurer or did not account them in the state's accounting system. The BCSO contracts with ICE to detain illegal immigrants.

Also discovered by the audit was that the BCSO has failed to renegotiate its contract for services provided to ICE since 2010, did not submit reports on the cost for care and custody of inmates to appropriate state agencies and legislative committees in fiscal years 2016 and 2017, and did not properly document credit card spending.

Auditor Bump's Office made several recommendations to the BCSO, advising that the office establish a process to ensure the Commonwealth is fairly reimbursed by ICE for services the office provides. Auditor Bump also encouraged the BCSO to submit total inmate cost analysis reports and improve record keeping of credit card expenditures to ensure they are being used for legitimate business purposes. The Sheriff's Office indicated it would take action on the recommendations in their response to the audit.

Other issues expressed to the Auditor's office by local groups, including healthcare worker and inmate ratios, facility overcrowding, and suicide rates were reviewed by Bump's office but not subject to full audit procedures. A review showed that the BCSO facilities were operating below capacity, and its ratio of healthcare personnel to inmates and suicide rates were similar to others in other county facilities.

“We took seriously community concerns that were relayed to us,” according to Bump, “but did not find anomalies in the Sheriff’s operations. As to questions regarding the Sheriff’s activity on policy matters, those are matters best left to the voters of Bristol County.”

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