Illinois inmates may be receiving illegal unemployment benefits?
To receive state unemployment benefits, one must be looking for a job and
available to work.
Both those requirements are hard to fulfill in a prison cell.
So in hopes of reducing fraud, the Illinois Department of Employment Security
has begun making a weekly comparison of its beneficiaries against the records of
70,000 inmates in state penitentiaries and county jails.
The project, which started two weeks ago at the urging of state legislators,
already has identified 420 people who were receiving unemployment benefits while
incarcerated, according to department spokesman Greg Rivara.
It's too early to know how much money might be saved from the program, Rivara
said. But the average beneficiary receives about $320 each week. Multiply that
by the 420 inmates uncovered so far, and there could be $134,000 in potential
weekly savings — or nearly $7 million a year.
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