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Paying for Your Time: How Charging Inmates Fees Behind Bars May Violate the Excessive Fines Clause

If you are thinking of implementing pay-for-stay, then you need to read this article. "With the explosive correctional growth, state correctional costs have skyrocketed in the last four decades. While it is understandable that governments would look to recoup these costs, advocates and scholars have long argued that it represents bad policy. However, less work has been done to challenge the legality of this practice, perhaps because courts have historically been so unfriendly to these types of challenges. This essay suggests that exploring the constitutional implications of charging inmates for goods, services, and even their stay behind bars could help to build the case for policy change around the nation. Specifically, legal academics could provide persuasive support for this area of advocacy by reexamining the legality of the current systems of fees and fines under the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause. Even if courts continue to strike down these legal arguments, policymakers may finally take heed of such compelling evidence that this practice may potentially violate the U.S. Constitution" (p. 1). This article is divided into these parts: "introduction"; "History of Inmate Fees"--history of inmate fees and pay-to-stay practices, rationales for implementing inmate fees, types of pay-to-stay, and policy objections; "Toward a New Litigation Strategy"-Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment, forfeiture cases examined under the Excessive Fines Clause, the seminal constitutional case in jail fee jurisprudence being Tillman v. Lebanon County Correctional Facility, and further litigation inquiries; and conclusion.