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Oregon Inmates Win Claims for Lost Sunglasses, Pictures -- Even Porn

Taxpayers in Oregon may be surprised to know they dish out an average of $60,000 a year to compensate inmates who claim prison officials damaged or lost things like their sunglasses, their TV – even their porn.

This year inmate Todd Ritchey was awarded $260 for a television he said was damaged during a search of his cell, Nathan Bennett got $125 for 250 pages of pornography he said were improperly confiscated from his cell and the state was ordered to pay Curtis W. Bevan $1,000 after he said six photo albums disappeared during his prison transfer.

In total, the roughly 1,000 lawsuits filed of this nature per year cost the state an average of $60,000 in payouts and much more in processing, an Internal Corrections Department audit found.

But corrections officials have yet to make many changes recommended by the auditors, like developing a way for all state prisons to be able access each others inmate property inventories to prevent losing property during transfers, OregonLive.com reported.

Limits on how much property an inmate can collect also aren’t routinely enforced, the site reported.

Still most claims are denied and many are handled informally or settled for pennies on the dollar.

But even when inmates don’t get what they ask for they can still cost the state a hefty sum.

Sex abuse convict Edward Thomas, for example, only got $100 out of the $675 he wanted for nine missing family photos -- but he cost the state another $700 in legal services, the web site reported.

Brian Belleque, westside institutions administrator for the Corrections Department, told OregonLive.com that tracking property for inmates is challenging but that an internal group is pursuing solutions recommended by the auditors.

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