The Illinois Department of Employment Security has identified 420 cases of individuals receiving unemployment benefits while behind bars.
According to the Chicago Tribune
, a program initiated just two weeks ago has begun making weekly comparisons of beneficiaries against some 70,000 inmates being held in county jails or state prisons.
The newspaper quoted employment security officials as saying it’s too early to tell how many of the 420 cases discovered so far actually involve fraudulent benefits being paid out, since some people jailed temporarily could still legally receive unemployment payments.
But officials said the concern is that inmates are having friends or relatives verify their eligibility with unemployment offices to keep benefit checks flowing.
Greg Rivara, a spokesman for the state employment security office, told the newspaper it’s also too early to tell how much money might be saved under the program. It could be significant since the average state beneficiary receives about $320 a week.
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