Inmates keep collecting unemployment checks

Some convicts are collecting tax dollars by fraudulently collecting unemployment benefits, and Washington is trying to figure out how to stop them. 

Federal lawmakers have turned to Pennsylvania for help, because a new computer system in that state cross-matches names of people collecting unemployment benefits to a prison database.

"Doing that immediately stopped the problem," according to Pennsylvania Labor Secretary Julia Hearthway.

Here's one way inmates game the system: While behind bars, they have a relative call or they use the jailhouse computer to check in with state unemployment offices. Checks are then directly deposited into their accounts.

Hearthway said the fix was simple.

"If Pennsylvania has saved $100 million by literally closing this barn door, all the other states out there can probably do the same thing. And nationally, probably save a billion dollars," she said.

One congressman calls Pennsylvania's crackdown common sense. He's appalled prisoners were able to get away with the fraud in the first place.

"These people are on unemployment but not because they lost their job --  because they did something wrong," U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly said.

The House is considering a bill being called the Perp Act, requiring states to stop writing checks to inmates. 

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