Ill. wants to collect inmate's prison wages

Mar 15, 2011

The Illinois Supreme Court is considering a case that could determine whether the state can pursue wages earned by prison inmates.

Lawyers presented their arguments Tuesday.

Inmate Kensley Hawkins has saved about $11,000 during his 21 years in prison by squirreling away the income he makes as a furniture assembler. He makes about $75 a month.

Now, the Illinois Department of Corrections wants him to turn over that money to help pay for his housing costs.

Under state law, inmates are responsible for their incarceration costs. The state says it's paid about $456,000 to house Hawkins.

State law also allows the corrections department to collect 3 percent of inmates' wages. Hawkins' attorneys say the department isn't entitled to more than that.

The corrections department has declined to comment.