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Wisconsin Legislators Want to Confiscate Inmate Stimulus Checks For Restitution

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The action comes just eight days after Wisconsin Right Now broke the story that many Wisconsin prison inmates were getting stimulus checks.

Three Wisconsin state legislators are proposing a bill to confiscate inmate stimulus checks to pay for restitution to victims, when applicable.

The bill was announced on March 15, 2021, by state Senators Julian Bradley and Duey Stroebel, and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, all Republicans.

The action comes just eight days after Wisconsin Right Now reported that many Wisconsin prison inmates were getting stimulus checks, and, a prison system source told us, the public would be shocked to learn how many were coming in.

“President Biden’s irresponsible stimulus package sends stimulus checks to imprisoned murderers, rapists, and child molesters. So, Rep. Sanfelippo and I are taking action to ensure the victims of these heinous crimes are paid restitution before criminals sitting in prison can profit. This bill is a commonsense proposal I hope legislators on both sides of the aisle can support,” State Senator Julian Bradley told Wisconsin Right Now.

Inmate stimulus checks

A co-sponsorship memorandum from the three legislators says, “Before Congress issued a third round of stimulus checks, they defeated an amendment that would have prevented these payments from being issued to convicted criminals. As a result, convicted criminals, including murderers and rapists, will receive $1,400 checks from the taxpayers.”

They stressed, “This bill would ensure those checks are used to pay restitution to victims when applicable.”

The legislators noted that others can co-sponsor the legislation, but that deadline is on March 16 at noon.

The statement also contains an analysis from the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau. it says:

Under current law, all money delivered to a prison for a prisoner may be used only under the direction of the superintendent or warden and only to pay certain surcharges, to pay victim restitution, or for the benefit of the prisoner. This bill requires that any federal COVID recovery rebates received by a person who is incarcerated in this state must be used to pay any restitution the person has been ordered to pay.

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How many Wisconsin inmates are getting checks? The prison system says it’s impossible to calculate, but, with approximately 20,000 inmates, and based on what our source told us, it’s a lot.

This comes as Republican Sen. Tom Cotton has been using his Twitter page to reveal that heinous criminals across the country – such as the Boston Marathon bomber and mass shooter at a historic black church – are getting $1,400 stimulus checks.

We reached out to John Beard, director of communications for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, and he noted that inmates are receiving stimulus checks because a federal court ruled that they can not be denied them.

Inmate Stimulus Checks Court Ruling

The court ruling in question came down in October 2020 from Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. According to CNBC, she ruled that the government can’t withhold inmate stimulus checks from incarcerated Americans, who number 1.5 million people. Before the court decision, the government had shelled out $100 million to inmates in stimulus checks before stopping the process. After the court decision, stimulus checks started doing out to inmates again.

The IRS advises,

Pursuant to a permanent injunction entered in Scholl v. Mnuchin, No. 20-cv-05309 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 14, 2020), appeal docketed, No. 20-17077 (9th Cir.), the IRS cannot deny a payment to someone who is incarcerated if they meet the criteria described above in the response to Q A1. Information can be provided to the IRS by using the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info here online tool by November 21, 2020.

“In general, I would note Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) to incarcerated persons is not a Wisconsin DOC program. We have shared information communicated to us by the IRS related to the payments,” Beard told Wisconsin Right Now.

“A federal court ruled in October the IRS could not withhold the payments from people in prisons,” he said.

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