David Webbert on Class Action Settlement Protecting Unemployment Benefits for Incarcerated Workers


The state has agreed to return unemployment benefits it seized from about 50 incarcerated workers at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic . . . .

“The purpose of the work release program and unemployment benefits is to ensure incarcerated people have access to financial security and employment when they return to their communities,” said Carol Garvan, legal director at the ACLU of Maine in the April 26, 2022, news release. “Our communities are safer when formerly incarcerated people have a foundation for a successful return home.”

The settlement returns the unemployment benefits seized from the workers’ prison accounts and recognizes that the money in their prison accounts is their property – meaning that the state can’t seize money from these accounts without due process.

“Everyone – including an incarcerated worker – is entitled to equal protection and fair treatment under the law, said David Webbert, managing partner at Johnson & Webbert, who serves as co-counsel in the lawsuit. “The settlement helps ensure that the state treats every Mainer with respect and dignity and that we don’t have any second-class people with second-class rights.”

Read the full Portland Press Herald article here.