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Taking an Interest in Inmate Trust Accounts

Posted by on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 in En Banc, Notes and Comments.

Charlotte Elam | 73 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 143 (2020) |

The Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause is generally unconcerned about the size of property taken. But is it more concerned about the person from whom the property is taken? When that person is a prisoner, courts have found the relevance of the Takings Clause less clear. The Supreme Court has held that the interest earned on private accounts held by the state—however minimal—is protected by the Takings Clause. Circuits are split, however, on the question of whether that protection extends to the interest earned on inmate trust accounts. This Note examines the circuit split and considers other paths to recovery for inmates. Finally, this Note argues that both stare decisis and the notion of the “positivist trap” in the procedural due process realm indicate that courts should consider the interest earned on inmate trust accounts no differently than they would other trust accounts. In other words, courts should recognize that Takings Clause protection does not stop short of the interest earned on inmate trust accounts.

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Charlotte Elam