State law envisions that those prisoners who can pay the approximately $26,000 a year that it takes to keep them in prison will do so.
But, some inmates have the ability to earn cash doing various chores. There’s even a Prison Industries division.
If a prisoner spends all the little money he earns, no problem.
If he decides to save it so he can have a nest egg when he gets released–and most prisoners get released–then there’s a problem.
The Department of Corrections tries to grab it to pay for his incarceration.
Do you sense a clash of values?
Enter Kensley Hawkins, a 60-year old who makes $75 a month making furniture in Joliet. He’s in for murder and attempted murder.
The state has sued to get the money to pay for his stay behind bars. He owes $455,000 for his long stay. The Department deducts 3% from inmate earnings.
Hawkins lost in Circuit Court, he lost in the Appellate Court and his case is now on the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Without quoting anyone, reporter Ameet Sachdev points out,
“It’s the first time the court will address the issue, which also has social justice and public policy ramifications for Illinois.”
The John Howard Association’s John Maki comes to the rescue:
“This is not going to help create a prison culture that’s more rehabilitative, which makes people less likely to offend again.”
Hard for me to disagree with that.
To take away this meager hope for a better future for those responsible enough to both work and save strikes me as completely counterproductive.
Hawkins is due for parole in 2028.