Illinois sues inmates to recoup cost of their incarceration

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Department of Corrections is bringing a small but increasing number of lawsuits against inmates to recoup the cost of their imprisonment with an intention to help fund operations.

The Chicago Tribune reports some lawsuits target inmates serving lengthy prison terms. Many cases are brought against less serious offenders who earned or come into sums of money, through means such as an inheritance, trust fund or settlement.

Critics of the department’s lawsuits say the practice makes it more difficult for paroled inmates to support themselves, undermining department goals of rehabilitating prisoners and reducing recidivism.

Department spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said the department has the right under Illinois law “to recoup from offenders the expenses incurred by their incarceration.”

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the lawsuits bring up “moral” questions, and that lawmakers should look into it.