November 11, 2020 By Robert Riggs – Dallas, Texas
Millions of dollars in $1200 stimulus checks intended for economic relief for the COVID-19 pandemic are flowing into prisoners’ accounts inside prisons and jails across the country.
The stimulus payments could total as much as 2.76 billion dollars if all of the people incarcerated apply and qualify for the pandemic aid which is likely under the rules.
A Georgia prison warden not authorized to speak publically complained that the sudden windfall is fueling the supply of drugs and contraband cell phones inside prisons. Flush with cash, inmates are paying their associates on the outside to use drones to fly contraband over the walls of prisons shut down by the coronavirus.
A prison investigator said he was shocked to find that an inmate who had already served twenty years of a life sentence had received a $1200 stimulus check. The stimulus aid has caused a shift in the balance of power between prison gangs according to the investigator who was not permitted to speak on the record.
Prisoner advocacy groups across the country are assisting prisoners in filing claims.
For example, the Mississippi Center For Justice and the Southern Poverty Law Center in partnership with Black Lives Matter describes on the MCJ website that it mailed almost 18,000 CARES Act packets–each containing all relevant instructions and Form 1040 with a stamped return envelope to inmates.
A sample form provides step-by-step instructions on how to file for a $1200 stimulus check.
The 2.3 million people incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons are probably eligible to submit a “Non-Filer” claim to the IRS and will automatically receive $1200 stimulus checks.
Parnell McNamara the Sheriff of McLennan County, Texas says prisoners in his Waco jail are having their $1200 stimulus checks sent to family members.
“A lot of hardcore career criminals are receiving money intended for hard-working people. That they should receive one dime is a travesty,” said McNamara.
The IRS has sent thousands of forms to the Texas prison system for its 122-thousand inmates to claim $1200 stimulus checks under the CARES Act. The prison system recently put up IRS posters instructing inmates on how to apply for economic relief for the COVID-19 pandemic.
This scene is playing out in state prisons and jails across the nation in the wake of a federal court order in October for the IRS to make the stimulus payments available to 2.3 million incarcerated prisoners.
Less than ten stimulus checks have arrived at Texas prisons according to Jeremy Desel the Director of Communications for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Desel says it is the department’s policy to first confirm that the IRS checks are valid before depositing the money into an inmate’s commissary trust fund account. Texas inmates use the money to purchase snacks, soft drinks, ice cream, and toiletries not provided by the prison system. Inmates also have the option of having the checks sent to family members.
The 2-trillion dollar Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act hastily passed by Congress on March 27 did not specifically ban payments to prisoners. The 883-page bill provided broad eligibility to get one-time payments for financial relief into people’s pockets as fast as possible.
In May an internal auditor for the IRS discovered that the agency had automatically issued payments to prisoners. A federal report in June found that the government had paid $100 million in stimulus money to about 85,000 prisoners. The government demanded repayment and some federal prisons intercepted and returned stimulus checks.
A class-action lawsuit was filed in California on behalf of incarcerated individuals in local, state, and federal facilities that challenged the IRS actions.
A district court in San Francisco agreed, finding the IRS’s policy of withholding stimulus payments “arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with the law.”
On October 14, 2020, Chief Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton of the Northern District of California found the IRS’s policy of withholding stimulus payments “arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with the law.” Judge Hamilton ordered Treasury and the IRS to send the relief money. Read a copy of the Judge’s order.
Inmates who receive stimulus checks in error do not have to return those checks because Congress did not include a “clawback” provision in the CARES Act.
Why send it prisoners, give it to people
Who deserve it. This is unbelievable prisoners r treated. Better than us.
Brian Rhodes says
Ellen Dearin says
Prisoners are put in jail or prison because they have disobeyed the law in some way. They should not be treated like people on the outside. I’m not saying they should be treated inhumanely, but they should not receive the Privileges that the outside world does. Giving them a paycheck only puts them in a position to feel superiority towards their jailers. Please get this changed quickly as these prisoners are there to be punished not lavished with gifts. Thank you
Please share with your friends and elected representatives.
What about their family in the outside world. I think they R the one that should get it
Lisa Kirby says
Superior to the jailer??? How, by getting deodorant, extra paper, stamps and a little more food? Really? Or maybe extra toilet paper or feminine hygiene items. Did you know that females are allotted 7 tampons a month? If you have money in your account you can buy more, but everyone doesn’t have money. Lavished with gifts? Please. You obviously have never been locked up. Good for you. IMO, you should educate yourself before you make a judgement call on such matters. You are clueless until you have walked in their shoes. Shame on you.
Exactly! Totally agree
Until you or a family member has been behind bars you have no business commenting. These people have made mistakes but they are still human, they are already treated like animals by the guards and others. I think it’s good to help them out so they can get the things they need
Brian Rhodes says
Lol no way why reward criminals how are they going to learn from mistakes if they get money
I never received a Stimulus check and I don’t know why the prisoners are getting them that’s bullshit
Darío Zumaya says
Every one deserves the stimulus money whether in prison or not we all make mistakes in our lives many family of prisoners don’t ever have a job this money will really help them in this pandemic,GOD BLESSED you all.
Anjanette Holladay says
The inmates should not be getting the stimulus, if anything it should be going to their families. The purpose of the stimulus was to help people with rising costs of groceries and the loss of paycheck neither of which the inmates have to worry about. Plus think of how many probably owe child support.
I THINK ONLY THOSE MAKING PAROLE OUGHT TO GET THEM. BUT IF YOU GOT ALOT OF TIME. THATS ANOTHER THING
Jo newberry says
What country am I living in and who do the dems think they are to take my tax dollars , put it in the form of a stimulus check, giving it to the man who murdered my first husband (the father of my children) while he is serving a life sentence for this crime.
Natalie Wages says
You have got to be kidding me! Do you know anybody in prison? I suggest when the prisons open back up get your pen pal and then go to the prison and visit this inmate. The experience will be a eye opening revelation. Have we the people of the United States human beings becomes so callous that we do not care for our neighbors anymore? All I’ve got to say to you is shame on you!! The majority of the men and women in the prison system are doing 20 and 30 years more than they should , for mild drug charges. No families no funds. Here’s something you can reflect on they get one roll of toilet paper a week and with a virus going on longer and the prisons are short of staff so they’re eating one time a day. Commissary means a lot to them people a stamp an envelope paper to write a letter on are a poem are there life history reaching out to help the younger generation not to do what they have done again shame on you!
Every person who is in prison deserves every good thing coming to them. Hell, who died and made any of you God?
Brian Rhodes says
Lol shame on you too