Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Tennessee Prisoners Fight to Keep Money

Eight Tennessee prisoners have filed suit to challenge the constitutionality of a state law that allows the Department of Corrections to seize up to 90 percent of a prisoner's trust account to pay for the cost of their own imprisonment.

The new law took effect in May, 1998, however DOC spokesperson Pam Dobbins told the Tenneseean in August that the state had yet to finish setting up a billing system that would implement the law.

While most prisoners are indigent, some do have money. During a debate over the new law, legislators were told that 72 of the state's 16,000 prisoners have more than $4,000 in their prison trust accounts. One prisoner had more than $111,056 in his account, legislators were told.

The law targets only prisoners who have enough money in their trust accounts to pay for at least 10 percent of the cost of their incarceration for two years (about $3,500). According to the Tennessean , none of the eight Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex prisoners who filed the suit has more than $600 in his trust account.

[Editor's Note: There seems to be a growing trend of state lawmaker targeting prisoners' trust accounts. Prisoners who carry a large balance in their accounts should if at all possible find a safer place to bank their savings.]


As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login