Republicans look to end unemployment payments to prisoners

"We must make it very clear that incarcerated individuals should not be receiving unemployment benefits, and that States need to make affirmative efforts to end this obvious abuse," he said Thursday. "Unemployment benefits are designed to support people who are able and trying to find work and provide for their families, but who have fallen on hard times.

"It is an injustice that the tax dollars of law-abiding citizens are being used to provide assistance to people who have broken the law and simply should not qualify for these benefits."

ADVERTISEMENT
Reichert explained that under current law, people receiving unemployment insurance must be actively seeking work, and people in jail are not available and presumed to be ineligible for unemployment benefits. But he cited several news reports from the last year saying that states — including Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and South Carolina — are paying millions in benefits to people in prison.

Reichert said some improper payments are being made to prisoners because in many states, the inmates themselves are expected to report that their new residence is a prison, which would shut off the payments.

"Not surprisingly, few inmates volunteer to stop collecting these checks, and no benefit program should rely on the honesty of inmates to ensure taxpayer funds are properly spent," Reichert said. "This legislation ends the practice of relying on self-reported information by inmates to prevent this type of UI benefit misspending."

The bill, H.R. 2826, has six Republican co-sponsors: Reps. Charles Boustany (La.), Tim Griffin (Ark.), Mike Kelly (Pa.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Jim Renacci (Ohio) and Todd Young (Ind.).

More in House

Bill would clarify 'good time credit' for prisoners

Read more »