Prisoners' Rights Press Release

05.09.18

ACLU of Ohio Files Brief in Lawsuit On Wage Garnishment of Prison Laborers

Criminal Justice

COLUMBUS, OH— On Monday, May 7, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the American Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief in the Ohio Supreme Court in support of David Braden, a state prisoner who is being denied the opportunity to ask for modification of his court costs. The ACLU of Ohio and the ACLU filed a related brief in early March in the companion case State v. Dunson. The following statement is attributable to Elizabeth Bonham, staff attorney for the ACLU of Ohio:

“The State of Ohio incarcerated Mr. Braden and now it is keeping him in conditions of confinement where he cannot afford a pair of shoes. Mr. Braden owes court costs to Franklin County, due to repay the cost of exercising his constitutional right to a jury trial. Although he is indigent, earning only $16 a month, the Court is garnishing his meager prison account to collect these costs several cents at a time, never allowing him to save more than $25. This enforced poverty makes Mr. Braden and others like him unsafe behind bars and strips them of their dignity; it is a cruel de facto state punishment, especially on top of a death sentence. Collecting costs from poor people in nickel-and-dime increments does not help Ohio’s justice system function. It is the ACLU’s position that under Ohio and constitutional law, incarcerated people who owe court debt have the right to request modification of those costs based on their ability to pay and at any time.”

Read the full amicus brief.

###