32,000 Michigan prisoners received millions of COVID-19 stimulus checks
LANSING, Mich. – It wasn’t just workers and families who got a piece of the coronavirus relief pie. About 32,000 Michigan prisoners received payments during the pandemic.
Some feel they do not deserve it and others have sent this money to their families. But according to Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz, that money is also fueling drugs in state prisons.
“This is something that worries us. Our strongest position is that we know that any influx of money into the prison system is going to turn into an ability or an option for prisoners to want and try to bring. of drugs in the facility, ”Gautz said.
The money the prisoners received averaged around $ 500. But some prisoners, even murders carrying life sentences, could fetch thousands of dollars.
Last year, the IRS stopped all payments to prisoners after the first stimulus bill. But a class action lawsuit in California has proven that there is no law preventing a prisoner from receiving Covid relief funds.
“Some (prisoners) certainly think they shouldn’t get it and shouldn’t be entitled to it. If Congress thought that way and if there was a lot of outrage on the part of Congress as to why which prisoners received those checks – but in subsequent bills they wrote for the second and third installments of stimulus checks, they didn’t change the laws, ”Gautz said.
There is a trap for prisoners who receive funds. If an incarcerated person owes overdue taxes, restitution or child support, the MDOC is reported and the money is redirected to the courts.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is also seeking this money to pay for the “cost of care” of a prisoner.
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In a statement from her office, she said: “By law, MDOC prisoners are subject to compulsory collection actions in an attempt to recover the cost of incarceration paid by taxpayers. Of the approximately 32,000 people currently held in state prisons, the attorney general has only filed about 125 cases involving stimulus funds for prisoners. “
“However, these measures were taken because of the total resources available to the prisoner,” he added.
Three stimulus checks have been issued since the start of federal aid: $ 1,200, $ 600 and $ 1,400.
But with the potential for more drugs in the system, the MDOC is stepping up surveillance of inmates.
“We’re still monitoring this – we’re now doing a lot more research at our smuggling facilities,” Gautz said.