NJ Sent $24M in Benefits— to Prisoners
Agencies didn't check databases to see if recipients were in prison
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2013 11:32 AM CDT
Almost half of payments—over $10M—were unemployment benefits sent to 7,500 prisoners over a 22 month period.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – New Jersey sent nearly $24 million in taxpayer money to prisoners in the form of unemployment, welfare, pension, and other benefits, reports the New York Times. An audit released yesterday uncovered 20,000 prisoners who received benefit money between July 2009 and April 2011, including tales such as one man who collected $39,000 in unemployment benefits while locked up for a drug offense—despite a state law requiring that beneficiaries be "available for work." State officials and "a lack of adequate internal controls" are to blame, according to the state comptroller's report.

"Suffice it to say that when thousands of inmates are collecting unemployment checks from behind bars, there is a serious gap in program oversight," the comptroller said, adding that some agency programs just didn't check to see if recipients were in state or county prison, while others relied on newspaper reports rather than available databases. "Recovering the money is not going to be a straightforward process," he told the Star-Ledger, "but the agencies have committed to make every effort to recover it." Chris Christie, meanwhile, is sidestepping blame, stating in a letter that the issue began before he came into office.

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Showing 3 of 17 comments
Vincebus
May 31, 2013 5:03 PM CDT
no money will be recovered. hey they had to do something with the funds and a lot of people are locked up. besides prisons are big business. they might as well get paid. theyre not technically unemployed and it makes jersey's unemployment rate look better...
wei2szu
May 31, 2013 4:37 AM CDT
"Recovering the money is not going to be a straightforward process," he told the Star-Ledger, "but the agencies have committed to make every effort to recover it." You shouldn't be able to recover it, it's your PROBLEM!!! Stuff that up your ass. You created this scenario and environment, where someone goes to get assistance, they encounter some fat bitch who doesn't even speak ENGLISH!!! ALL OF THEM SHOULD BE FIRED!
okaragozian
May 30, 2013 4:08 PM CDT
If you have benefits coming, and you are sent to jail or prison, those benefits should not evaporate but be put on hold for you so you can use them when you get out. Legal entitlements can not be summarily revoked when you are incarcerated, but they can, and should, be put in abeyance.