The federal government handed out $783.5 million to imprisoned individuals through stimulus checks as part of the American Rescue Plan, Fox News reported Friday.
The Internal Revenue Service responded to a public records request from the conservative group American Crossroads by divulging that the U.S. government let taxpayer money go to 560,000 prisoners during the 2020 tax year, the report said.
The American Rescue Plan was established by pandemic recovery legislation that President Joe Biden signed into law in March.
The plan sought to help the country recover from the economic aftermath of COVID-19 lockdowns by building on some of the measures former President Donald Trump brought into effect during his time in the White House.
According to a Biden administration fact sheet, “working families” would receive a $1,400 stimulus check for each individual in the family under the plan.
Thanks to Senate Democrats, the checks also went to people in prison. Republicans’ efforts to stop that from happening were defeated in a party-line vote, Fox News reported.
Back when the legislation was being debated in the Senate, Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana fought for an amendment to the plan that would bar prisoners from getting a share of the stimulus checks the government was dishing out.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Bomber, murdered three people and terrorized a city.
He’ll be getting a $1,400 stimulus check as part of the Democrats’ “COVID relief” bill.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) March 6, 2021
But Senate Democrats unanimously voted to shut down that amendment, according to Fox News.
Should convicts get stimulus checks?
Democrat Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin told his colleagues that it would disadvantage racial minorities.
“Given the stark racial disparities in our criminal justice system, this would cause the most harm to Black and brown families and communities already harmed by mass incarceration,” he said during the Senate debate on the plan, according to the report.
“Children should not be forced to go hungry because a parent is incarcerated,” Durbin argued.
Cotton decried the passage of the bill without the amendment he supported, saying on Twitter, “Senate Democrats just voted to give stimulus checks to criminals in prison.”
“They haven’t lost their jobs, they aren’t worried about paying rent or buying groceries,” he said.
Senate Democrats just voted to give stimulus checks to criminals in prison.
They haven’t lost their jobs, they aren’t worried about paying rent or buying groceries.
Another example of the unrelated spending in the Democrats’ partisan slush fund.
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) March 6, 2021
Money flowing to prisoners was not unique to the American Rescue Plan.
Some of the stimulus payments the Trump administration instituted ended up going to incarcerated individuals — but only after a federal judge threw a roadblock in the way of the administration’s attempts to stop money from going to prisoners, Fox News reported.
As of now, prisoners can get stimulus payments.
In order to obtain the money allotted to them, they must be either a U.S. citizen or a noncitizen permanent resident. They must have filed a tax return or they have to fill out an IRS form asking for the payments, according to a PolitiFact fact-check of Cotton’s statement. (It was found to be “mostly true.”)
The Washington Post reported that one of the prisoners who received federal stimulus checks is Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor accused of sexually abusing hundreds of girls and women. Nassar got two checks for $2,000, the Post reported.