September 6, 2007
INMATES AND WORKERS' COMPENSATION
By: John Moran, Principal Analyst
You asked if the law that requires an inmate to pay for the cost of incarceration permits the state to take any workers' compensation benefits or settlement due to the inmate.
The law that gives the state a claim against an inmate's property for the cost of incarceration excludes workers' compensation payments and any other income or property that is statutorily exempt from an execution to satisfy court judgments.
REPAYMENT FOR THE COST OF INCARCERATION
State law requires the Department of Correction (DOC) commissioner to assess inmates for the costs of their incarceration (CGS § 18-85a). (For more details on this process see OLR Report 2006-R-0231.) The law gives the state a claim against an inmate's property for the costs of incarceration, but it excludes workers' compensation and other types of property (CGS § 52-352b).
Other exempt property includes:
1. necessary apparel, bedding, food, and household furniture and appliances;
2. tools, books, instruments, farm animals, and livestock feed the inmate needs or uses for his or her occupation, profession, or farming operation;
3. burial plot (can include family members);
4. public assistance payments and any wages earned by a public assistance recipient under an incentive earnings or similar program;
5. health and disability insurance payments;
6. health aids necessary for the inmate's work or health;
7. Social Security, veterans, and unemployment benefits;
8. court-approved child-support payments;
9. arms and military equipment, uniforms, or musical instruments owned by any member of the militia or armed forces of the United States;
10. a motor vehicle valued up to $1,500 as determined by its fair-market value minus related liens and security interests;
11. wedding and engagement rings;
12. residential utility deposits for one residence and one residential security deposit;
13. any assets, interests, or payments received from a trust, retirement plan, or other plan or arrangement, except a federal, state, or municipal pension or annuity;
14. alimony and support, other than child support, but only to the extent that wages are exempt from execution under CGS § 52-361a;
15. an award under a crime reparations act;
16. benefits allowed by any association in support of its incapacitated members;
17. money due from an insurance policy issued on exempt property, to the same extent that the property was exempt;
18. any interest in property up to $1,000;
19. any interest up to $4,000 in any accrued dividend or interest under, or loan value of, any unmatured life insurance contract the inmate owns under which he or she or a dependent is insured;
20. his or her homestead up to a value of $75,000, based on the fair-market value of the property minus any statutory or consensual lien;
21. a money judgment arising out of services provided at a hospital, up to $125,000; and
22. irrevocable transfers of money to an account held by a bona fide nonprofit debt adjuster licensed pursuant to state law (CGS §§ 36a-655 to 36a-665, inclusive).
In addition to the property that is statutorily exempt from a court execution, the following is also exempt from a cost-of-incarceration claim:
1. property the inmate acquired after he or she was released from incarceration (although there are exceptions to this, see OLR Report 2006-R-0231);
2. property acquired for work performed during incarceration as part of a program DOC regulation defines as job training, skill development, a career opportunity, or an enhancement program; and
3. money from a contract for reenacting the inmate's violent crime in various media (such as movies and books) or from the expression of the person's thoughts or feelings about the crime, which by law must be paid to the Office of Victim Services.