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David C. Fathi’s Sept. 4 Tuesday Opinion essay, “Prison jobs shouldn’t be slave labor,” supported above-slave wages to prisoners for the work they do while incarcerated. It seems like a good idea.  

But I had to scoff when I read, “Many prisoners leave prison penniless.” Hah! The situation here in Virginia is far worse.

My friend is an ex-offender who was released from Virginia Correctional Center for Women with a debt of more than $30,000 to the state for court costs and related fees, along with interest accrued during her years in prison, when she had no way to pay anything.

Had she been allowed to work down her debt while serving her time, it might have seemed a little less unfair. But, more important, the commonwealth should stop loading huge debts onto ex-offenders who are trying their best to reenter the community and support their families.

Nancy McIntyre, Alexandria