Prison Inmates Are Being Sued For Getting Locked Up

The state of Illinois sues its prisoners for room and board while behind bars, sticking them with a financial burden before they're even released.

Here’s something you may not have heard of before …The state of Illinois has reportedly been pursuing lawsuits against its prison inmates to pay for their room and board while behind bars, according to the Chicago Tribune.

A major issue with these lawsuits is that they stifle the ability for parolees to get their lives back on track once they’ve served their time because of the financial burden.

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“If you don’t have a way to support yourself, you go to the underground economy. That’s criminal, and you go back to prison,” Alan Mills, executive director of the Uptown People’s Law Center, which provides legal assistance to inmates, reportedly told the Tribune. “That’s horrible public policy.”

Inmates are being charged for their own incarceration in about 41 states, according to NPR. Such fees have been around for approximately 40 years and becoming increasingly more common, but are a bit different from actual lawsuits over which the state has more discretion, according to Fusion.

Recently, the number of lawsuits has spiked significantly from 2012 and 2013 when there were just two lawsuits compared to this year when in the first 10 months there were 11, Fusion reports.

Read More: Here's Why The U.S. Criminal Justice System Needs To Be Reformed

It is suggested that the states are explicitly targeting inmates who unexpectedly come into money, such as one inmate who was reportedly sued shortly after he inherited $14,000.

“The Legislature should revisit whether this law is appropriate,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan reportedly said in a statement. “These recoveries may raise roadblocks to former inmates trying to lead successful lives out of prison.”

Banner Photo Credit: Flickr user Rennett Stowe

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