Indigent burial policy under review in Adams County - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Indigent burial policy under review in Adams County

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Coroner Jim Keller addresses the Adams County Legislative Committee regarding the county's indigent burial policy. Coroner Jim Keller addresses the Adams County Legislative Committee regarding the county's indigent burial policy.
QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -

Adams County Coroner Jim Keller is facing continued criticism for policies regarding those who can't afford to bury their loved ones. 

Keller is now asking the county board to review its indigent death policy.

An indigent death is when the deceased persons family can't afford to pay for burial costs, meaning the cost then falls on the county. The cost is $1,000.

As the policy states now, once a person is declared indigent loved ones must sign over their rights to the remains over to the county. The county then cremates the body. 

Of the $1,000 people must pay, $800 goes to the funeral home and $200 goes to the crematory. 

If families don't pay that $1,000, they can't get their family members death certificate or ashes. Adams County State's Attorney Gary Farha says the policy is legal but the coroner is acting outside the scope of his job.

"I think, in talking with Jim, he is frustrated in that he is doing things that aren't necessarily his constitutional duties as a coroner," said Farha. "He's trying to help the county."

Keller says the current program has been successful, other Illinois counties have similar programs and Keller says he works with families on payment options.

According to Keller, he's had 11 indigent deaths so far this year, which means the county paid $11,000. So far, he says families have paid back $8,000. 

The county board will now review the indigent death policy and make any changes needed to better serve the citizens of Adams County. 

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza denounced Keller's practice on Tuesday. Mendoza says there is state money available to help cover the costs of funerals and burial for those in Illinois who can't afford it. However, she's concerned coroners and local officials don't know that. She's urging the governor's administration to do more to notify local officials and funeral homes about restored state funding.

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