Can Criminal Convicts Be Required to Pay for the Costs of Incarceration?

 Posted on November 10,2021 in Criminal Law

hartford criminal defense lawyerA criminal conviction can have many effects on a person’s life. While most people understand that a conviction can result in criminal consequences, such as the requirement to pay fines or serve time in prison, they may not be aware of the collateral consequences that can follow a person for years after they completed their sentence, and in some cases, for the rest of their lives. In many cases, these collateral consequences are related to a person’s criminal record, which may prevent them from obtaining employment, housing, education, or public benefits. However, one less-known issue that may affect convicts in Connecticut involves the state’s ability to take action to force a person to pay for some of the costs of their incarceration.

Collection Actions Against Former Inmates

A Connecticut law that was passed in 1995 allows the state to make a claim against a former inmate and recover the costs of the person’s incarceration. These types of collections may be performed when a person receives a “significant windfall,” which will generally include situations such as winning money through the lottery, receiving an inheritance, or receiving compensation in a personal injury case. The state may collect payments within 20 years after a person was released from prison, and it may recover up to 50 percent of the amount received in a windfall.

Criminal justice reform advocates are hoping to introduce new laws that will address this issue and prevent a person from experiencing continuing collateral consequences after they have completed their criminal sentence. After being released from prison, former inmates often struggle to reintegrate into the community, support their families, and build savings that will allow them to succeed financially and avoid future criminal activity. The state’s seizure of money received by a person will prevent them from passing assets to their descendants, making it more difficult to build family wealth and maintain financial stability. 

The seizure of money gained through personal injury claims is especially problematic. In these cases, a verdict or settlement is meant to address the expenses that a person suffered due to being injured by someone else, including the costs of their medical treatment and the income they were unable to earn while recovering. If the state seizes 50 percent of what a person receives through this type of lawsuit, they may be left without the ability to pay expenses related to their injury.

While the term “significant windfall” indicates that the state will only pursue repayment when a person receives large amounts of money, officials have collected amounts as low as a few thousand dollars. Since minorities and people of color make up between 70 and 80 percent of the prison population in Connecticut, these communities are disproportionately affected by this practice, which may make it harder for many families to escape poverty.

Contact Our Hartford Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, Woolf Law Firm, LLC can help you understand the consequences you may face if you are convicted, including any collateral consequences that may affect you after the completion of your sentence. We will provide you with a strong defense, and we will work to protect your rights during your case. To get the representation you need, contact our Connecticut criminal defense attorneys at 860-290-8690 for a free consultation.


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