What happens when you are imprisoned for longer than your sentence?


Everyone knows the old saying that if you do the crime, you have to do the time. But what happens when you do the time for longer than you were supposed to? In other words, what happens when you are not released when your sentence is complete?

Overdetention is the term we use to describe situations where a person is kept in jail for longer than their sentence. For example, let’s say that John Doe is sentenced as a habitual offender for 15 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”). John serves his time, and he was supposed to have been released on December 31, 2020, but MDOC does not release him until June 1, 2022. That prolonged imprisonment for well-past his release date is a violation of John’s civil rights.

Over the years, several courts have heard cases concerning overdetention. For example, in 2002, Los Angeles settled a class action lawsuit for overdetention and illegal strip searches, which affected over 400,000 inmates. The average time that inmates stayed past their sentence was 1 or 2 days, but with the number of people affected, the case ended up settling for around $27 million. Other cases have occurred in Louisiana, resulting in a range of awards from $21,000 to $200,000 for overdetentions lasting from a few days to several months. As everyone can imagine, the longer the overdetention, the bigger the award.

Once a person has done their time, there is no excuse for a prison to keep them any longer. If you or a loved one was kept in jail past a set release date, then there is likely a civil rights violation that should be pursued. Contact an attorney right away to discuss your specific situation and how they can fight for the justice you deserve.