More than 1.1 million incarcerated individuals received COVID-19 stimulus checks, totaling over $1 billion dollars, according to internal data provided by the IRS.
Roughly 163,000 of those recipients are individuals serving life sentences without the possibility of parole, the IRS told Rep. Don Bacon (R., Neb.) in a letter exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said that his agency does not possess data on how many of those individuals with life sentences may also be facing the death penalty. A study by the left-wing Sentencing Project found that life sentences are most commonly given to individuals convicted of homicide and rape.
"The American Rescue Plan was reckless in the amount of massive spending with no off-sets," Bacon told the Free Beacon. "Giving stimulus checks to death row inmates is a glaring example. This bill triggered the worst inflation in 41 years, costing the average family $500 a month. The poor suffer the most."
The total cost of these payments is estimated to be at least $1.3 billion.
Republican lawmakers such as Bacon and Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) warned in 2021 that President Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion stimulus package lacked appropriate guardrails. After reports came out showing terrorists including the Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received a $1,400 stimulus check, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler apologized for giving Cotton "two Pinnocchios" over his concerns.
The IRS’s disclosure of criminals receiving stimulus checks highlights how the federal government’s unprecedented spending spree passed with little oversight. The Small Business Association admitted in May that it had no plan to stop fraudulent loan applications for its nearly $1 trillion Paycheck Protection Program.
The American Rescue Plan provided cash payments for individuals earning $75,000 or less and $150,000 for married couples. The plan did not prohibit prisoners from receiving the payments. Individuals in state and federal prison may still apply for the COVID-19 stimulus checks, officially known as Economic Impact Payments, if they have not received them, Rettig said.
Experts estimate at least $80 billion from the program was paid out to phony businesses, in what former U.S. attorney Matthew Schneider called "the biggest fraud in a generation." Some Democratic lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (N.Y.) celebrated the cash giveaway. In February, she said she helped secure stimulus checks for "huge amounts of illegal immigrants."
The Free Beacon previously reported on two Republican mega donors, both of whom are billionaires, erroneously receiving $1,400 stimulus checks.
Economists largely agree that the American Rescue Plan contributed to the country’s skyrocketing inflation, which is at 40-year highs. A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco concluded that the cash payments resulted in much higher demand from U.S. consumers compared with their European counterparts.