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


Everyone knows the old saying that if you commit a crime, you must serve time. But what happens when you serve time 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 jailed 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 served his time and was supposed to have been released on December 31, 2020, but MDOC did not release him until June 1, 2022. That prolonged imprisonment well past his release date violates John’s civil rights.

Over the years, several courts have heard cases concerning over detention. For example, in 2002, Los Angeles settled a class action lawsuit for over detention 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 over detentions lasting from a few days to several months. As everyone can imagine, the longer the over-detention, the bigger the award.

Once a person has done their time, there is no excuse for 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 a criminal defense attorney immediately to discuss your situation and how they can fight for the justice you deserve.