The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) is facing a lawsuit from at least one inmate, and possibly a class action suit involving scores of other inmates, all of whom were forced to surrender their legally purchased MP3 files and media players to FDOC authorities, according to Ben Conark of the Florida Times- Union.
In February, inmate William Demler, age 74, who is incarcerated at the South Florida Reception Center, filed suit in the northern U.S. District Court with the sup- port of the Florida Justice Institute, a non-profit legal firm that has a lengthy record of lawsuits against the FDOC.
“The FDOC’s confiscation of these individuals’ lawfully purchased property—for no reason other than to turn a profit—is simply unconscionable,” said Josh Glickman, attorney for the Social Justice Law Collective, an advocacy group helping support the lawsuit.
Demler is seeking to form a class action with scores of other FDOC inmates who have also been made to illegally surrender their lawfully purchased property, reported Conark.
In his federal complaint, Demler alleges violations of the Takings and Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
Demler was formerly housed at the Hamilton Correctional Institution in Jasper, Fla., and, according to the Times-Union, over the course of several years he had purchased from Ac- cess, a company then under contract with FDOC, an MP3 player and hundreds of media files costing nearly $700. Demler’s grievance on the issue claims he was encouraged by the FDOC to make such purchases, which carried the program promise “Once music is purchased, you’ll always own it!”
Access was under contract with the FDOC since 2014 to provide MP3 equipment and media files to in- mates. According to the Times-Union, more than 30,000 players and over 6.7 million media files were sold to inmates at a value of over $11 million.
Florida Department of Corrections cancelled its contract with Access, re- placing it in April 2017 with a more profitable JPay deal. As JPay commissions increase and canteen sales soar, the FDOC is expected to take in “more cash than ever,” over $35 million per year, all at inmates’ expense, according to the Times-Union.
Following the new arrangement, all past purchases have been rendered irrelevant, and inmates were required to forfeit to FDOC all equipment and media files they had legally acquired. “An act of fraud,” Demler said.