Well damn! Even people behind bars were getting to the pandemic money. New York State records reported thousands of its state inmates made out with $34 million in federal COVID relief funds.
The New York Post reported that inmates received 26,232 stimulus checks while incarcerated in New York state prisons.
Some got lucky twice and received more than one stimulus check over the two years between Trump and Biden terms.
“It’s strange. It’s double-dipping. You can make money while in prison,” said Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens).
“The taxpayers are paying for the housing and food of inmates. The money should go back to the taxpayers who are paying for their incarceration,” he added.
The U.S has about 1.4 million inmates, and last year, the federal government sent out $783.5 million in stimulus checks to inmates under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
However, that amount likely exceeds $1 billion because inmates were also entitled to stimulus funds under the 2020 pandemic relief package that Congress and former President Trump passed.
Notably, there is nothing in the law that specifically prohibited convicted prisoners from getting their stimulus checks.
May of last year, the Internal Revenue Service determined that inmates did not qualify for stimulus checks and refused to issue payments to them. They also ordered federal and state prison officials to intercept checks that had been mailed out to inmates.
A federal judge in Northern California ruled that the federal government could not deny stimulus funds to inmates after a class-action suit was filed on their behalf.
Judge Phyllis Hamilton said the action was “arbitrary and capricious” and ordered IRS officials to advance stimulus payments to inmates and required the agency to make it easier for prisoners to apply for the stimulus checks they’re legally entitled to.
New York corrections officials then said if an inmate didn’t receive a stimulus payment, they were provided an IRS form and instructed on how to apply for their rebate.