SPRINGFIELD, IL. (IRN) – The state of Illinois is cutting off unemployment benefits…for jail inmates.

The Department of Employment Security used a new program that matches the names of those receiving benefits vs. those who are incarcerated. They discovered 1,100 jail inmates receiving benefits, to the tune of almost $2 million.

The benefits have been cut off, and now the department is seeking restitution. The department will also consider seeking criminal charges on a case-by-case basis, taking into account factors such as how long the illegal claims went on, how much money the claimant received and whether he makes restitution.

IDES spokesman Greg Rivara says jail inmates are definitely not entitled to benefits.

“When someone is collecting benefits, they must contact the department every two weeks, answer a series of questions, including if they’re able and available for work. If an individual is in a county lockup, they’re not able and available for work,” he said.

Rivara said there is some fraud involved, rather than just an innocent oversight. He says either the inmate is calling in to the Department of Employment Security and falsely stating that he is able and available for work, or someone is doing it on the inmate’s behalf, or someone is doing it on the inmate’s behalf unbeknownst to the inmate.


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