Stephens Amendment to Halt Unemployment Payments to Inmates Passes House

HARRISBURG - An amendment offered by Rep. Todd Stephens to make sure prison inmates are barred from receiving unemployment benefits unanimously passed the House.

Stephens successfully amended House Bill 403 to require the Department of Labor and Industry cross-check state and county records to make sure an inmate is not receiving benefits.

Since 1997, the department has been cross-checking to make sure state inmates were not receiving unemployment.  It began checking records for county inmates in January.  At the time, the department ceased payments to more than 3,000 people, saving about $18 million in unemployment compensation payouts.

“I appreciate that the administration has taken action, but we must make sure such cross-checking is the law,” Stephens said.  “There is no excuse for any inmate to receive such benefits.  The taxpayers deserve better.”

The department is using the data system called the Pennsylvania Justice Network to cross-match county inmate data with unemployment records.  It then identifies unemployment beneficiaries in county prisons so it can halt payments.  It uses the state Department of Corrections to cross-match state inmates.

The Department of Labor and Industry estimates an annual savings of about $6 million for every 1,000 unemployment compensation claimants identified.

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: David Foster
Share |