Inmate forced to pay $20K toward his own incarceration

CHICAGO,Ill.(KSNT)- According to The Chicago tribune, a Chicago man currently serving time in state prison was ordered to pay $20,000 toward his incarceration after he obtained a legal settlement from his mother’s death, according to an appellate court ruling.

The ruling by the Fourth District Appellate Court concluded that Johnnie Melton, 49, of the 200 block of North Karlov Avenue, must pay state officials $19,925.89.

The Sept. 4 unanimous ruling found that state officials were entitled to the money for his incarceration at the Logan Correctional Center between Oct. 28, 2011 and Jan. 8, 2013.

In Feb. of 2013, state officials filed a complaint against Melton. According to the suit, the state corrections officials argued that they had a right to be reimbursed for the “care, custody, treatment, or rehabilitation” of Melton from Oct. 28, 2011 to Jan. 8, 2013.

Officials argued that Melton had enough assets that he should reimburse the state for his time in prison.

Melton’s defense argued that the funds came from a wrongful death lawsuit of his mother and that they should be exempt.

But a trial judge in 2013 ruled against Melton and allowed the state to garner the amount.

In his appeal of that order, Melton argued that he had not received enough warning that the state department of corrections was taking control of his assets. The appeals court ruling said he had ample time but also said, “the opportunity to conceal funds is heightened in the digital age, where assets can be transferred anywhere in the world at the click of a mouse.”

The ruling found that the state had a right to garner his assets to reimburse the state for his incarceration.

According to the appellate court ruling, “The goal of requiring reimbursement seeks to shift the economic burden of incarceration from the public to the prisoner.”

Court records show Melton had been convicted on drug-related charges three times since 2002. His last conviction was in 2010, when he was sentenced to nine years in prison. He is currently serving time in the Lincoln Correctional Center.

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