Pa. jail inmates collecting unemployment

Feb. 18, 2013 at 4:51 PM
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PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Pennsylvania officials say they are moving to correct an oversight that allowed inmates in county jails to collect unemployment benefits from behind bars.

The Philadelphia Daily News said 1,162 inmates got an average of $344 a week for an average of 18 weeks -- or more than $7 million given to convicts already being housed at the public's expense.

The oversight was possible because a Pennsylvania labor department database was only set up to cross-check applicants' Social Security numbers with those of people serving time in state or federal prisons. County jails weren't included, officials said.

Once approved, the labor department generally uses a direct deposit payment method, meaning prison officials never spotted checks arriving as they opened inmates' mail. Only a biweekly phone call is necessary to renew benefits.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said his administration has moved to correct the oversight.

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