Washington v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

New Decision

Pennsylvania law mandates that the Department of Corrections make deductions from inmate accounts to pay court-imposed fines, costs, or restitution. Thomas Washington, an incarcerated individual, challenged a recent increase in these deductions from 20 percent to 25 percent.

Juvenile Law Center joined the ACLU of Pennsylvania and other advocacy organizations in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in support of Mr. Washington. The brief emphasized the significant harms that increased deductions cause to incarcerated people and their families, including that many incarcerated individuals lose the ability to pay for basic living needs. The brief also highlighted unique challenges the deductions would pose for young people, given their lack of access to economic resources. The brief further argued that, given these serious consequences, due process entitles incarcerated individuals to notice and a hearing before the increased deductions can continue. 

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that the Department of Corrections violated Mr. Washington’s procedural due process rights when it increased the rate of his deductions without notice or an opportunity to be heard. The case was remanded to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania for further proceedings.