The Internal Revenue Service promised earlier this week to boost efforts to quickly provide much-needed cash to millions of financially struggling Americans—and it appears that great progress already has been made.
What the majority of the general public might not know is that individuals who are incarcerated are also eligible, as the first two rounds of the stimulus checks, for the $1,400 stimulus payments.
With this in mind, there are several Republican state senators who are seeking to redirect those funds to the prisoners’ victims if they are owed money.
In Missouri, Sen. Tony Luetkeymeyer is sponsoring legislation that would do just that.
“Allowing prisoners to benefit from these programs, which were intended to help people reeling from job loss and economic devastation, is wrong,” he told Newsweek.
“If these checks are going to be allowed to go to prisoners, then victims should be the first in line to receive compensation from those checks.”
Republicans vastly outnumber Democrats in the Missouri Senate, so there is a chance that Luetkeymeyer’s bill will pass without Democrat support. The same holds true for the state House of Representatives, with the senator admitting that he is “optimistic.”
In Wisconsin, Sen. Julian Bradley is co-sponsoring legislation that would require prisoners’ stimulus checks be used to pay any owed restitution.
“There is money coming in that wasn’t expected for the criminals, the murderers, the rapists, etc., that are locked up. So, we can use that money to start paying some restitution to the people who desperately need some help,” he told WTMJ, adding that the legislation is focused on “ensuring they get the brand of justice” that was already ordered by the court.
However, Democratic Sen. Lena Taylor told the station that she agreed that prisoners need to pay restitution but added that some of the stimulus payments should be set aside to help them when they are eventually released.
The senators’ efforts come as the second batch of stimulus checks, which the IRS began processing last Friday, includes about seventeen million direct deposit payments that are worth nearly $40 billion.
The agency also mentioned that for this particular batch of Economic Impact Payments, what’s noticeably different is that it includes a large number of paper checks and prepaid debit cards—which could potentially take weeks to be delivered to mailboxes.
Nearly fifteen million paper checks totaling $34 billion and five million debit cards totaling $11 billion have been mailed to Americans who haven’t received the stimulus funds via direct deposit.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.