Thursday, October 11, 2012

Illinois Pays Unemployment to Prison Inmates

Mistakenly, of course. Sun Times:
State officials say they have found more than 1,100 inmates who they believe improperly collected unemployment benefits totaling more than $2 million while jailed in Illinois sometime in about the last year.
One Cook County inmate collected almost $43,000, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, though most were paid far less. Nearly all of the fraud occurred in mid-2012 from county jails across the state.
The BGA guy channels the late great Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen:
Andy Shaw of the state-government watchdog group The Better Government Association said that while the $2 million may be only a tiny piece of Illinois’ multibillion-dollar budget deficit, “a couple million here, a couple million there and you’re starting to talk about real money.
Did they find it on their own? No, no, no:
The department announced in July that it would begin comparing lists of jail inmates from around the state with rolls of unemployment recipients after a legislator from southern Illinois, Rep. John Cavaletto, said he had heard about potential fraud among inmates at a jail in his district. An inmate had used the phone check-in system that the Department of Employment Security allows people collecting unemployment to use to certify that they’re looking for work and available to do it. Internet check-in is also available.
Cavaletto was surprised by the department’s initial results.
“I didn’t know how big it was when we got into it because it kind of started with an isolated incident,” he said. “I really believe that’s just kind of the tip of the ice berg. How much through the years has this really been robbing us and how much fraud is going on here?”
Meanwhile, the state is broke, but public union pensions of $83 billion and rising, and apparently prison unemployment payments until now, are sacrosanct. The state has $8 billion in unpaid bills--each year it grows--stiffing providers for the disabled, mentally ill and the poor.

Robbers robbing us blind, inside or outside those prison doors.

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