We Paid For It: Unemployment Benefits For Inmates - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

We Paid For It: Unemployment Benefits For Inmates

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More than 144,000 Oklahomans filed unemployment claims in 2012, including hundreds living behind bars.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission compared information on inmates with those collecting unemployment from Nov. 2012 through May 2013.The OESC discovered 686 inmates illegally collected unemployment during that time, totaling $255,700.

"It's not what we might refer to as a pervasive problem," said John Carpenter with OESC. "We really don't want it to become one. We want to do our best to prevent this as much as possible and to let people know, you might as well not even try. It's not going to work."

Oklahoma is now in the process of hiring a company to regularly check unemployment records with inmates, so this doesn't happen again.

The numbers may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the roughly $450 million our state pays out for unemployment benefits a year. The problem isn't isolated to Oklahoma. Nationwide, some reports show incarcerated crooks have collected more than $13 billion a year.

Here's a list of states or cities that have been audited:


January 2010-2012

475 inmates received $1.1 million



1100 inmates received $2 million


June 2008-Junuary 2011

30 inmates received $175,000


Over 3 month span in 2011

100 inmates received $2 million



Inmates received $5 million

New Jersey:

July 2009-April 2011

7600 inmates received $11 million

New York:


126 inmates received $465,000

Philadelphia, PA:

July 2011-2012

1162 inmates received $7 million



944 inmates received $1.3 million



1764 inmates received $3.4 million

West Virginia:


26 inmates received $150,000


July 2012-July 2013

593 inmates received $616,000

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