View Full Version : DOC Taking Money From Inmates That Do Not Benefit From Program

05-12-2008, 03:28 PM
LAWSUIT CHALLENGING THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF HB2298 FILED: Middle Ground, on behalf of all prisoners in the Arizona Department of Corrections who are assigned to WIPP jobs, filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Arizona on September 10, 2007. The lawsuit seeks class action certification and challenges the provisions of recently passed HB 2298, which authorizes the ADOC to deduct 5% of earned wages from each and every prisoner in the Arizona DOC, no matter what crime they are convicted of and no matter how long they will be in prison. HB 2298 provides for programs which apply to and benefit drug offenders only. During legislative hearings on the bill, the DOC testified that they planned to collect about $650,000/year in inmate wages via the deductions, and that about 653 inmates/year would qualify or receive benefits from the provisions of the bill. At the present time, about 36,000+ inmates are in the Arizona prison system, and an estmated 25,000 of those prisoners are assigned to paid-work jobs.
We assert that the wage deductions violate the Takings Clause of the Constitution, as well as violate Due Process. HB 2298 goes into effect on Sept. 19, 2007, and we will likely not be able to prohibit its implementation. However, deducted wages might be subject to reimbursement if the law is declared unconstitutional as we suspect it will. To download a copy of the complaint (13 pages) click on COMPLAINT CHALLENGING HB 2298. (
We urge you to download the complaint and mail it to someone you know inside the prison.
Note: Only nine (9) Plaintiffs were required in order to file the lawsuit. However, because it is a declaratory judgment lawsuit and we seek class action certification, the ruling will affect all "similarly situated" prisoners, and not just those who are named Plaintiffs. This method of litigation is much more economical for us to manage. Middle Ground is supporting the filing fees and process serving for this litigation, as well as assisting the attorney, Scott Ambrose, in legal research and writing. NO OTHER PLAINTIFFS ARE REQUESTED AT THIS TIME.
Update on litigation: The Defendants were served on 9/14/07. Two defendants (the Governor and the Attorney General) are named. The court determined that the Defendants were required to file an Answer, and they did so on October 19, 2007.. Of course, the State denies all allegations and claims that their intentions are pristine and that many thousands of prisoners will "benefit" from the drug offender transition programs. The Judge issued a Scheduling Order which we are following: By April 1, 2008, all motions to amend the Complaint, join additional parties or other procedural motions must be filed. By April 1 and May 1, all expert witnesses must be revealed by the Plaintiffs and the Defendants respectively. All discovery for both sides must be concluded by June 30, 2008. All supplemental discovery is due by August 15, and all dispositive motions must be filed by August 29, 2008. If the case cannot be settled by dispositive motions (Motion for Summary Judgment), then the case would be set for trial. Meanwhile, the wage deductions have begun and our named Plaintiffs are continuing to advise us of the actual wage deductions they are experiencing. No decision has yet been made by the Court to determine whether or not this case will be certified as a class action lawsuit. At the present time, the case is being handled as a Declaratory Judgment action.
We will continue to post updates as applicable. Posted April 3, 2008.