An Illinois man jailed for nearly three decades wants to keep the $11,000 he’s accumulated while employed at a shop within the prison. But the state wants to seize the money to help satisfy a debt it claims he generated during his incarceration.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Kensley Hawkins, 60, has been in prison since 1982 for murder. The state of Illinois said Hawkins owes the Stateville Correctional Center a total of $455,203.14 to cover the cost of his stay at the facility. Hawkins, who makes nearly $75 a month at the prison’s woodshop, is fighting the issue in a case that has made its way to the state’s supreme court.

Hawkins’ lawyers have vowed to represent him for free, and said the state has breached a rule that allows inmates to keep their saved wages.

“The rule was, if you work, you get paid,” Hawkins’ attorney, Ben Weinberg, told Chicago Fox affiliate WFLD. “The state gets to deduct 3 percent, but then if you save it, you get to keep it. The state of Illinois has changed the rules.”

But another law holds that prisoners can be charged the entire cost of their incarceration. Under that law, the Department of Corrections won a $455,000 judgment in the case when the Third District Appellate Court ruled in their favor. Hawkins’ account has been frozen, according to the TV station.

Hawkins has been employed since his incarceration for murdering a 65-year-old man and attempting to kill two Chicago police officers. He was sentenced to 60 years behind bars and will be up for parole in 2028.

At the prison’s woodshop, he learned to build chairs, desks, dividers and cabinets. He earns about $2 a day, excluding the small commission he earns for the items he sells.

“To save $11,000 is miraculous, but the money we get from this guy means nothing to the state,” John Maki, coordinating director of the John Howard Association of Illinois, a prison reform organization told the Tribune. “This is not going to help create a prison culture that’s more rehabilitative, which makes people less likely to offend again. “

Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, a representative for an Illinois victims’ rights group, told WFLD that the state is justified in going after Hawkins’ money.

“This man committed some horrible crimes,” Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins of illinoisvictims.org told the station. “I commend him for working to earn money in prison, but he has a debt to society, a debt that he owes not only to his victims, who he should make restitution to, but he should also make restitution to the state.”

The Illinois Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case March 22.