In March 2020, inmates participating in the work release program were forced to stop working on account of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Maine Department of Labor found such incarcerated workers eligible for the special COVID-19 unemployment benefits and began making weekly payments into their prison accounts. Few weeks later, the State abruptly removed the workers’ unemployment benefits from their accounts.
The inmates thus filed a class action lawsuits claiming reimbursement of such payments. The State then agreed to settle the case by returning the seized unemployment benefits to the incarcerated workers and, on 26 April 2022, asked the District Court of Maine to approve such settlement.