Inmates Receive Unemployment Money While Incarcerated
SPRINGFIELD -- More than 1,100 inmates in the State of Illinois have collected over $2 million in unemployment benefits while in jail. One Cook County inmate took in $43,000 in benefits. The numbers in Central Illinois, aren't much better:
Sangamon County: $33, 697 paid to 16 inmates. Of those, five were caught after one payment. One additional inmate was caught before receiving money.
Macon County: $50,702 paid to 15 inmates. Of those, five were caught after one payment. Three others were prevented from receiving any money.
Champaign County: $32,685 paid to 18 inmates. Of those, seven were caught after one payment. Seven others were prevented from receiving any money.
We spoke to Mike Bell, a retired employee for the Illinois Department of Corrections, he worked as an educator in the Logan Correctional Center.
"As a citizen and a retired public state employee, I'm just absolutely outraged," said Bell. "...over 1100 inmates could receive over $2 million in unemployment benefits it's just unbelievable."
Bell says given the state's money situation, it's even more upsetting.
"They're telling us as, retirees and state employees, that we have to take a cut in our retirement benefits, and other benefits that we've earned... my goodness no wonder with waste like this that there's a problem with money," added Bell.
Barbara Howell is also a former state employee who, at one time, needed unemployment help.
"I did collect for a very short time... you know, you only just have to call in, so I'm sure you could get somebody to call in for you, maybe it should be a little tighter," said Howell.
A spokesman for the Department of Employment Security wasn't available today but said they are actively trying to recover that money and could even prosecute those who have collected.