A federal lawsuit is accusing the Florida Department of Corrections of unlawfully separating Florida inmates from their rightful property, namely, digital media they’d purchased in prison.
The class action filed in the Northern District of Florida on Tuesday charges the FDOC and its newly appointed secretary, Mark Inch, with violating Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment assurances of compensation and due process by confiscating music and books that Florida prisoners had bought.
FDOC Press Secretary Patrick Manderfield said “the department has not been served this lawsuit,” but would “thoroughly review it upon receipt.”
Dante Trevisani, the executive director of Miami public interest law firm the Florida Justice Institute, said the new policy is a result of the FDOC’s partnership with a new vendor, Miramar-based JPay, for the state prison system’s digital music player program.
“If the music could transfer, it would negate the new vendor’s ability to make money. This was the explicit reason it was done,” Trevisani said.
The complaint claims advertisements touting the digital media players promised inmates: “Once music is purchased, you’ll always own it!” Now, prisoners are being compelled to hand in their old devices in exchange for new Jpay-branded ones without any of the media they’d purchased. What’s more, the suit claims the FDOC has declined to offer compensation for the seizure of materials prisoners had thought they owned outright. Now, if they want access to the music or books they’d previously enjoyed, they’ll have to buy them a second time.