Illinois to Inmate: You Owe Us $455K for Jail Stay... So we'd like that $11K you earned in prison By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Mar 15, 2011 1:38 PM CDT 28 comments Comments Illinois wants to seize the $11,000 a man earned by working while incarcerated. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – Since being jailed in 1982, Kensley Hawkins has saved $11,000 from working while behind bars. Now the state of Illinois wants that money—it's suing Hawkins to cover the cost of his prison stay, the Chicago Tribune reports. According to Illinois law, the state can start collection procedures against inmates with sufficient assets, and the threshold is thought to be $10,000. Technically, Hawkins owes more than $455,000. The 60-year-old, who is not up for parole until 2028, says he started working because he wanted to send money to his daughter. His lawyers say their client is being pursued because he saved his prison income rather than spending it at the commissary. "This disincentivizes working and saving," says one. The Illinois Supreme Court is holding arguments in the case today.