The Illinois Supreme Court calls it "absurd" to let inmates earn money in prison and then take it away to pay the cost of keeping them behind bars.
The court dismissed a lawsuit in which the Department of Corrections tried to take $11,000 from the savings of convicted murderer Kensley Hawkins. He saved the money working at a furniture-assembly job at a Joliet prison.
The court ruled Thursday that it makes no sense to encourage inmates to work and learn new skills but then take their wages.
The law does allow the Corrections Department to keep a small percentage of what inmates earn and to go after assets they may have.