Man Saves $11,000 in Prison Wages, State Wants It Back

Prison Wages Excuse me sir, but the state wants its money back. The state of Illinois says that Kenley Hawkins owes the entire $11,000 he managed to save earning $75 per week since 1982.

The catch: Hawkins is a prisoner at the Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, and the state paid him those meager wages while he's been incarcerated. The total cost of his stay in prison is estimated at $455,203.14.

The 60-year-old prisoner is going to court to keep the state from seizing the funds in his bank account to partially satisfy that debt. It will be up to the Illinois Supreme Court to determine whether or not the state can repossess the wages paid to inmates. This will be the first time the court will address this particular issue.

"To save $11,000 is miraculous, but the money we get from this guy means nothing to the state," John Maki, coordinating director of the John Howard Association of Illinois, a prison reform organization, told the Chicago Tribune. "This is not going to help create a prison culture that's more rehabilitative, which makes people less likely to offend again."

It's likely to be an uphill battle if that's Hawkins' best argument. The prospect of having to pay the state back from meager prison earnings is probably not going to be a major deterrent to committing a crime.





Next: Out of Prison, Out of a Job, Out of Luck



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Cal

Great way to make sure NO inmate will ever do any work while they are incarcerated. So, what we are saying here is that if an inmate shows an ounce of smarts and tries to save their money, they will be punished by having it confiscated.
Additional issues: Is the state confiscating OTHER inmates money? If not, it is an issue of equal protection. What about labor law? Federal law says employees MUST be paid for their work - Even if the employee owes the employer money. The employer may not confiscate wages.
I personally think its awful - and Im no fan of convicted felons

April 14 2011 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alfredo Wilson

I suggest that everyone here arguing for him take the time to read the entire article from the tribune. I'll lay out some of the important facts though.

1. He's not actually out of prison and won't be until 2028 at the earliest.
2. He's in prison for murder and attempted murder on 2 cops
3. Illinois has a law that states all prisoners have to pay for their incarceration if able.

April 13 2011 at 2:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Alfredo Wilson's comment
Cal

Even if Illinois has such a law, how does the State go about collecting? If they haven't done this before, I would say it doesn't fly. They only want to confiscate it because it's a relatively fat bank account. Do they go after other prisoners money in this way? If they don't, than it's a non-starter.

April 14 2011 at 2:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ruby Lips

sorry for the double-post....it kept saying "loading" and staying gray, so I thought I didn't hit "submit"...I'm usually that much of a Type A!

April 13 2011 at 12:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ruby Lips

Did the man sign a contract when he was sentenced that he'd help pay for his room and board? At $75/week, the state was paying him about $2/hour. If minimum wage averages out to $5/hour from 1982 until now, they were saving (by not paying the prisoner) the remaining $3/hour. That's about $6000/year (40 hours a week for 50 weeks, 2000 hours), or $180,000. Still, the $180K doesn't come close to the cost, but the prison system isn't supposed to be financially self-sustaining. Let him keep his money - he'll need it more than the state does. That $11K isn't going to help the state close its budget gap, but it could mean the difference between him being a contributing member of society or a drain on it.

April 13 2011 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ruby Lips

Did the man sign a contract when he was sentenced that he'd help pay for his room and board? At $75/week, the state was paying him about $2/hour. If minimum wage averages out to $5/hour from 1982 until now, they were saving (by not paying the prisoner) the remaining $3/hour. That's about $6000/year (40 hours a week for 50 weeks, 2000 hours), or $180,000. Still, the $180K doesn't come close to the cost, but the prison system isn't supposed to be financially self-sustaining. Let him keep his money - he'll need it more than the state does. That $11K isn't going to help the state close its budget gap, but it could mean the difference between him being a contributing member of society or a drain on it.

April 13 2011 at 12:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
annidez

If the man can't keep his money, the state is a slave holder. I don't know why the prisoner was incarcerated, but it sounds like he worked, used his brain and saved, and now will walk out a free man with a little more chance of making something of himself. $11,000 is chump change to the state, but to the ex-convict it could be the difference between turning his life around and committing another crime to survive.

April 11 2011 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AustinAbe

That is total BS, that state convicted him so they should pay. He worked and saved so he should keep his money.

April 11 2011 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
popcorn547

Why is it so difficult to see or do what's right? The State OFFERS to pay prisoners $75 a month so they can buy some things on their own (at one women's prison in PA they allot a set # of tampons per month and certain amount of toilet paper a week for example, they could buy additional personal items and things like that). If they do the work - why shouldn't they keep the money? This keeps the prisoners active and if they're smart enough to save it so they do have more than two cents in their pocket when they get out to try to make a better start - doesn't that make sense? If the State did not tell them 'use it or lose it' - the money should be there's to keep. Yes, obviously it costs the State a lot to incarcerate them - but the State has started this incentive system and pay system of $75/week- why not live up to what they promised?

April 11 2011 at 2:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kimberly de Escalant

How DARE you try to take his money away? He committed a crime, I understand. BUT, he paid it with 30 years behind bars. If you have not been behind bars, dont try to come up with the ¨they have cable, air conditoning, three meals a day¨ BS. If, while being in prison, he served the state by working, he deserves to keep the money. A prison sentence does not make it an obligation to work, its a punishment plus a chance to change one´s behavior to be a better citizen when released. Read the laws. The cost of incarceration is a LIE. More money is made than actually lost. It employs thousands of people, goods are sold at exorbitant prices, which inmates mostly pay with funds they receive from their families. Also, most prisons are built in small, rural towns, swelling their populations and hence receiving greater benefits from the federal government.

April 10 2011 at 6:36 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
mall marathoner

why give the man "wages" in the first place... if they didnt want the prisoners to have money then dont give them any...

April 10 2011 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mall marathoner's comment
Papagoose

So you support slavery...wow.

April 11 2011 at 1:54 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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