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Florida DOC Liable for Legal Copy Costs Not Repaid

The Circuit Court for Leon County, Florida, on October 4, 2006, awarded a Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) prisoner $1,030 in damages and court costs in an action seeking recovery of the cost of legal copies made for the prisoner.

Prisoner Elijah Jackson, following the decision in Smith v. Department of Corrections, 920 So.2d 638 (Fla. 1st DCA 2005), review denied 923 So. 2d 1162 (2006), sued in small claims court, seeking to be repaid for all costs of legal copies prior to January 2006. The Smith decision found the FDOC had no statutory authority to enact a rule assessing fees to make legal copies for prisoners.

Jackson?s suit proceeded to trial. The Court concluded FDOC was not entitled to charge Jackson for the costs of copies or to enforce liens for copying costs. Thus, any amounts collected ?should be returned to the prisoner Plaintiff.?

The Court found no costs were assessed after January 27, 2006; all liens imposed prior to that date were removed from Jackson?s prisoner account. FDOC, however, refused to repay costs previously paid. It offered no defense other than that the Smith decision did not address the issue of damages.

The Court entered judgment in Jackson?s favor, awarding him $750 in damages for copy costs deducted from his prison account and not repaid, and $280 in court costs. The Court also ordered 9% interest be paid from the date of its order. See: Jackson v. Crosby, Fla. Second Judicial Circuit, Leon County Circuit Court, Case No: 2006 SC 0842 (October 4, 2006).

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