State Republican lawmakers say prisoners' third stimulus checks should go toward restitution

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Federal stimulus checks have been trickling in, even to those with a Department of Corrections mailing address.

But if two Wisconsin state lawmakers have their way, some prisoners won't see a dime. 

The intent is to ensure victims get what they're owed. 

The bill would require 100% of prisoners' stimulus checks go toward restitution.

More than 19,000 men and women are incarcerated in the Wisconsin DOC.

“The majority of the ones I’ve been in contact with are frustrated,” said Ramiah Whiteside, a prisoner advocate with EXPO, Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing.

They're frustrated because other Americans are spending their stimulus the way they want.

“There’s a lot of good-hearted men and women who would like to send that money home."

If a bill cosponsored by State Senator Julian Bradley and State Representative Joe Sanfelippo passes, some 3,800 prisoners who right now owe restitution, won't see a dime.

“If you take 100% of it, either going towards restitution or otherwise, that handicaps them to be able to do something worthwhile and pro-social and productive for their families,” said Whiteside.

Prisoners did give away a portion of their first two stimulus checks.

“Our division of adult institutions already has a policy that allows 50% of a person’s care, their trust account’s money that comes in to be applied to restitution,” said John Beard, communications director with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

The DOC confirms some prisoners have already received this third check.

“If a check is sent to the institution for someone, we process it and put it into their trust account and it can then be used to be for normal items purchased through canteen for instance,” said Beard.

On Monday, March 29, Sen. Bradley sent us a statement saying, "We should all stand behind the men and women who have been terrorized by perpetrators who have demonstrated that they have no regard or law and order."

If the bill is approved, the Department of Corrections says prisoners who already received their stimulus would likely not have to pay it back.

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