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Inmates Could Lose More Than Their Freedom

Published on April 18th, 2012

Being an inmate brings many changes, the majority of which involve restrictions of some sort. The most devastating of these restrictions is likely that of an inmate’s freedom. In Illinois and elsewhere, this transition can be a challenge. Illinois residents concerned with this issue will therefore be interested to learn about a new potential restriction facing inmates: a federal program whereby individuals spending at least one month in jail who receive Social Security benefits would have their benefits suspended.

Recently, inmates in one county in North Carolina have begun to experience this new change. According to the sheriff, the program is voluntary and was put into practice by Cleveland County in July 2011.

The process works as follows: Jail administrators compile a monthly report that lists the Social Security number and full name of each inmate. The Social Security Administration then receives this information. As long as an inmate was obtaining Social Security, retirement, disability or survivor insurance, and the inmate has also been jailed for at least 30 consecutive days, the jail will receive $400.

Pre-trial confinement time counts toward the 30 consecutive days as well as time following conviction. Also, if an individual is incarcerated for another 31 to 90 days, the county will receive an additional $200 and the inmate will cease receiving federal benefits until released. The Sheriff’s Office will not receive more than $600 per inmate.

The Sheriff’s Office has earned over $13,000 in an eight-month period as a result of this new program. The Sherriff says this money helps cover the cost of care for inmates. The Social Security Administration will also save money through this new program. Given the level of concern right now with saving money at all levels of government, this type of program could have the potential to show up right here in Cook County.

Source: Shelby Star, “How the county gets a cut of Social Security funds,” Rebecca Clark, April 10, 2012

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