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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<span style="font-weight: bold"> <span style="font-size: 14pt">Prison inmates collect unemployment </span> </span>

<span style="font-weight: bold">John Baer </span> Daily News Political Columnist
Monday, February 18, 2013

DID YOU KNOW that Philadelphia prison inmates collected unemployment benefits while sitting in their cells?

They did: 1,162 of them got an average of $344 a week for, on average, 18 weeks. That's more than $7 million.

And many of the 25,500 inmates in other county jails in Pennsylvania did the same.

We're talking cash for cons - tens of millions of tax dollars paid by employers and employees fraudulently scammed by incarcerated crooks.

Makes you want to get up every day, go to work and pay your taxes, right?

Well, hold on. Before you pick up torches and pitchforks, you should know that the state says such payments are ending under a program put in place by the Corbett administration, and unemployment-compensation payments to 3,000 inmates have stopped, saving up to $18 million a year.

But how'd this cons' con happen?

"Not sure," says Philadelphia Prison System information officer Shawn Dawes. "It just wasn't on anybody's radar."

Philly prisons commissioner Louis Giorla issued a statement to the Daily News praising state efforts, adding: "Offenders who are already in custody and supported by public funds should not be able to collect twice."

But they did. And getting the money back, even by attaching tax returns of scammers, is difficult, officials concede.

Such abuse isn't new, or unique to Pennsylvania.

A recent audit in South Carolina showed that inmates were getting unemployment benefits. Last year, Arizona found that 475 felons collected $1.1 million.

Still, the apparent scope of the problem here, its duration and the curiously quiet way it's being dealt with raises questions for which there seem to be few answers.

For example: How'd it happen?

Well, state corrections officials, since 1997, have linked with the Department of Labor and Industry to match incoming state prisoners' Social Security numbers with unemployment-compensation records to stop any benefits.

But it was only last month that Labor and Industry issued a news release - missed by most, apparently reported only by the online news service Paindependent.com and not available on Labor and Industry's website - announcing a "new cross-match system to identify and stop benefit payments" to county prisoners.

This raises questions:

Why didn't state officials talk with county officials 16 years ago? Why didn't Labor and Industry, already working with state prisons, also work with counties?

Answers I got from Labor and Industry and the Department of Corrections were the same: "Don't know."

How was the system scammed?

Once one gets unemployment-compensation benefits, a required every-two-weeks renewal can be done over the phone, even by another person.

Because almost all payments are made through direct deposit (since 2000) or to Labor-and-Industry debit cards (since 2007), inmates could call or have someone call, and then collect.

The president of the Pennsylvania County Corrections Association, Berks County Prison chief deputy warden Janine Quigley, tells me that prevention is easy when checks come in the mail, because inmate mail is opened.

But L&I press secretary Sara Goulet says that maybe only 2 percent of benefit checks are mailed.

How long's the scam gone on?

Quigley has "no clue." Goulet says, "That's a good question." The closest estimate is in that aforementioned news release, which quotes L&I Secretary Julia Hearthway: "For many years."

How much has been lost?

Labor and Industry's January news release estimates that stopping benefits saves $12 million annually; Labor and Industry officials claim "potential" savings of $18 million a year.

But total tax dollars lost could be higher.

Here's why:

The Philly amount ($7 million) is based on statewide averages, according to the Labor and Industry manager of unemployment-compensation research, Kirk Basehore. The number of Philly inmates who collected (1,162) came from a pilot review done last May by the Corbett administration.

Those caught collecting represent 13 percent of Philly's 9,000 prisoners. If 13 percent of the 34,500 county prisoners statewide collected, the total take would be $27.7 million.

That's per year - for who knows how long.

Finally, the scant attention this story has gotten is suspicious.

You'd think a law-and-order governor with sagging poll numbers facing re-election next year would grab any opportunity to tout state savings.

And this is a two-fer: ferreting out fraud, saving resources.

But if it's been overblown or understated, more attention could be embarrassing: for the administration, if the former; for everybody but the cons, if the latter.
 

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Here's an added fascet. I was listening to the news and allegedly Obama is pushing a plan (law?) that would require employeers to hire former convicts. Now, I understand that everyone has a need to work, but if the government is going to force employeers to hire people with criminal records then that, to me, is over the line.
 

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Mebbie he's helping other politicians find jobs again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I was surprised to see anyone in prison in Philadelphia ever had a tax paying job to qualify for unemployment. Didn't know drug dealers paid taxes and into unemployment comp, next they'll be unionizing
 

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Why not, they are just as unproductive as most of the others on UE.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Swift said:
Why not, they are just as unproductive as most of the others on UE.
Not so sure I would be ready to call people on unemployment unproductive. Many found themselves in this situation through no fault of their own.
I always thought to collect unemployment comp you had to be:
1) Laid off thru no fault of your own
2) Had to be available for work
3) Had to be looking for work
4) And the amount you receive is based on your income for the last 3 quarters that you worked.

For some of those critters in prison you couldn't find verifiable income if they went back 3 generations and they surely are not available for work if they are locked up.

Unemployment isn't the same as welfare or some of the other government giveaway programs.
 

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Birch, you made some great points, but unfortunatly there are a lot of people who abuse the UC system. It is a shame that it reflects on those who truely need it and don't abuse it.

A recent example for me. I had a employee quit to take another job. He told me on his last day that he was taking a couple weeks off before he started his next job, so he could relax, catch up on some things, do a little hunting.
No big deal to me, until I got the claim on my UC that he wanted to draw UC on me for those 2 weeks.
I filled the form out, explained that he quit to take another job, and I had to hire someone to take his place, therfore he should not be allowed to draw UC off my account for his 2 week vacation.
The UC board sided with him, and let him draw it.
Before someone says I should fight it, it is a huge hassel for a employeer to fight and win those rulings, and not worth the time it takes for someone to draw for 2 weeks.
 

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From the solunds of things Buzz, you are in charge of hiring and firing? I might be in the market for some employment. Looking for something where I don't have to work very hard, maybe my own corner office? I really have no skills but i'm kinda fun to hang out with. Pay can be negotiable. Let's say $9-17K per month and I work/hangout from home? As long as you don't expect to much from me, I think we might be able to come to some sorta mutual agreement.

PS: I'm gonna need a nice company car. We can discuss an expense account once I've been there awhile. Lets say 2 weeks?

Alright get back to me ASAP and let me know when I can start and what type of signon bonus you will offer me.

Thanks!
 

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I can believe this. I know several guys that were in jail and had someone call unemployment every two weeks and file through the PAT system for unemployment. The money was direct deposited into a bank account and waiting for the guy when he was released from
Jail.
 

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Birch your on to something. Though at first I thought of a few instances where it would be "justifiable" to collect...for example you were laid off and then placed in jail short term (couple of days/weeks), not laid off because you were in jail. But then I remember you have to be available, willing and able to work. Technically if you are on collecting unemployment and away for a week on vacation you should not claim that week since you are not available if a job was presented.

Anyone that did file should be required to pay back the funds and their jail term extended because they willingly and knowingly broke the law because one of the questions you have to answer while filing your bi weekly claims is...are you able and available to work (along the terms). Obviously anyone is prison is not available to work and the claim should have been denied.
 

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InVenangoNow said:
From the solunds of things Buzz, you are in charge of hiring and firing? I might be in the market for some employment. Looking for something where I don't have to work very hard, maybe my own corner office? I really have no skills but i'm kinda fun to hang out with. Pay can be negotiable. Let's say $9-17K per month and I work/hangout from home? As long as you don't expect to much from me, I think we might be able to come to some sorta mutual agreement.

PS: I'm gonna need a nice company car. We can discuss an expense account once I've been there awhile. Lets say 2 weeks?

Alright get back to me ASAP and let me know when I can start and what type of signon bonus you will offer me.

Thanks!
Sounds like you want my job..er position. To apply for this particular position, you must be able to hunt crows every Friday and Saturday all Winter (excluding days golfing in Fla), and be available for golf several days per week during Summer months, as well as wood chuck hunting.
I will need photos of golf clubs, crow hunting shotgun, and your varmit gun sent 3 weeks in advance of any interview.
Company vehicles are choice of "ezeego electric or yamaha gas" in the Summer, and Yamaha Rhino as the Winter and choice.

Several choices of offices in several locations, many have 18 offices (I prefer the 19th), but no corner offices, most ....all have a great view.
Your salery request of $9.00 to $17.00 per month is do-able....depending on how well you shoot.......
 

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Last time IVN went golfing, well, we'll let the pic tell the story.................................

 

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Wow.....he shops the same place Timberdoodle does...........
 
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