Thousands of New York City prisoners posed as bandits during the coronavirus pandemic – raising $ 34.3 million in federal emergency stimulus funds, state records show.
A total of 26,232 stimulus checks were received by inmates in New York State jails through September, according to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
Some of the inmates received more than one check since the stimulus payments were made over two years covering the Trump and Biden terms.
“It’s weird. It’s a double dipping. You can make money in jail,” Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens) said.
“The taxpayers pay for the accommodation and food of the detainees. The money should come back to the taxpayers who pay for their incarceration, ”he added.
There are an estimated 1.4 million inmates in the United States Last year, the federal government handed out $ 783.5 million in stimulus checks to inmates as part of President Biden’s US bailout, reported Fox News. But the overall total is likely to exceed $ 1 billion, as inmates were also eligible for stimulus funds under the 2020 pandemic relief plan approved by Congress and former President Trump.
People who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents were eligible for stimulus checks of $ 1,200 if they had an income of $ 75,000 or less under the original Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) against coronaviruses. Taxpayers filing jointly were entitled to $ 2,400.
Nothing in the law specifically prohibited convicted prisoners from obtaining stimulus checks.
But the Internal Revenue Service concluded in May 2020 that those incarcerated were not eligible for stimulus checks. They refused to make payments to inmates and ordered federal and state prison authorities to intercept checks already sent to inmates.
A class action lawsuit on behalf of the prisoners was filed and a federal judge in Northern California ruled that the federal government could not deny stimulus funds to citizens simply because they were incarcerated.
Judge Phyllis Hamilton called the action “arbitrary and capricious” and ordered IRS officials to advance payments to detainees and make it easier for them to request the stimulus checks to which they are legally entitled.
State corrections officials said if an inmate did not receive a stimulus payment, they were provided with an IRS form and instructions on how to request a refund.
There are about 1.5 million people incarcerated in the United States and most of them were eligible for stimulus payments based on their income, according to class action lawyers.