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Collecting Reasonable Fees from Kansas Prisoners for Government Reimbursement Not Unconstitutional

Kansas state prisoner Michael Taylor appealed the dismissal of his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging various constitutional violations for the deduction of supervision fees from his prison account. The dismissal of his suit was affirmed.

Taylor was incarcerated in the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) for multiple felony convictions beginning in 1985. He was subsequently released on parole and was revoked several times, resulting in re-sentencing to longer consecutive prison terms, the last occurring in 2002.

In 1998, Kansas Admin. Regs. § 44 5 115(b) was enacted, which required a $25 per month parolee supervision fee. Internal Management Policy and Procedure § 04 106 requires the collection of outstanding fees from prior incarceration upon re-entry to the KDOC. Taylor filed suit when $50 for two unpaid months of supervision was deducted from his prison account. He claimed ex post facto and various other constitutional violations plus unlawful bill of attainder violations, arguing that the statute requiring the fee was enacted after his 1985 and 1987 convictions. The district court dismissed his complaint and he appealed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the dismissal. The Court found there was no bill of attainder violation because the statute served a legitimate, non-punitive legislative purpose; further, no ex post facto violations existed because the statute was "not so punitive in purpose or effect" that it hindered the legislature's intent. No equal protection claim existed because the fee was not punitive or irrational, and there was no due process violation because Taylor was not entitled to a pre deprivation hearing. No Fifth Amendment "takings" violation occurred because the fee was reasonable and imposed to reimburse government services.

Lastly, the appellate court held that Taylor had failed to show a sufficient deprivation or proof that the defendants’ actions were of the culpable state of mind required to support his Eighth Amendment claims. See: Taylor v. Sebelius, 189 Fed.Appx. 752 (10th Cir. 2006) (unreported).

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Related legal case

Taylor v. Sebelius