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Federal court rules Stamford woman can sue to end Connecticut’s prison debt law

View of an empty prison corridor
WIN-Initiative/Neleman/Getty Images
View of an empty prison corridor

A Stamford woman is suing Connecticut after it tried to collect inheritance money it says she owed for a prison term.

Elana Bildner with the Connecticut ACLU is representing the plaintiff, Teresa Beatty. Bildner said under the state prison debt law, Connecticut can charge some incarcerated people hundreds of dollars a day.

“That’s a pretty egregious amount in our view — that’s more than students at UCONN pay, it’s the price of a midrange hotel," Bildner said. "But more importantly, it punishes people who’ve been in prison after they’ve already served their sentence, and traps families in cycles of poverty.”

Some of the state’s rights to charge money were curtailed in last year’s state budget. Bildner said Connecticut still charges incarcerated people for some serious offenses.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.