Urgent Announcement: Prisoners Eligible for Stimulus Checks

Urgent Announcement: Prisoners Eligible for Stimulus Checks

Prisoners are eligible for stimulus checks. See bottom of post for link to Facebook livestream event How to Get Stimulus Money for Incarcerated Citizens on Friday, October 9th – an in-depth presentation on how to apply for funds correctly.

Many of you have heard news about state and federal prisoners being eligible for stimulus checks. We’ve heard and seen lots of folks who believe this is only a rumor, warning that it would be fraudulent to apply.

We want to assure you that this is NOT a rumor. This is the result of a motion naming Steve Mnuchin, the Department of the Treasury, et. al., to stop withholding stimulus funds to incarcerated people. On September 24, a federal district court judge issued an order granting the motion. Read the order here.

We urge all our adopters to help their adoptees apply for their stimulus check – act FAST as the deadline is fast approaching.

People who did not file a 2018 or 2019 tax return are urged to file a claim with the IRS before October 15, 2020, in order to receive a payment. If the prisoner filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return or received Social Security Benefits or Railroad Retirement Board Benefits, they do not need to file a claim. However, if they did not file a 2018 or 2019 tax return and their income was below $12,200 (or $24,400 if filing jointly) in 2019, then a claim must be filed through the IRS’s website.

Prisoners without access to the internet can have someone file a claim for them, or they can complete a paper application. The instructions for a paper application are available here.

More information on the recent ruling regarding prisoners and CARES Act stimulus checks can be found here.

Note: This case also benefits people who were incarcerated both before and after March 27, 2020. If they were incarcerated both prior to March 27 and at least some time afterward, then the IRS may have denied them an Economic Impact Payment based on their incarcerated status. The Court’s preliminary injunction establishes that the IRS should not have done that. If they were only incarcerated before March 27, then they were unaffected by the IRS’s policy of denying benefits to incarcerated people, and should a have received a stimulus check. If they have not, they can file the same steps below to file a claim with the IRS, if eligible.

BREAKING NEWS: OCTOBER 5, 2020

IRS EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR FILING CLAIMS ONLINE TO NOVEMBER 21, 2020; IRS DOES NOT EXTEND DEADLINE FOR PAPER CLAIMS, WHICH ARE STILL DUE OCTOBER 15TH, 2020.

See here for the FAQ.

From National Right2Vote sawarimi.org:

SawariMedia is doing everything that we can to spread the word about the update and how to take advantage of it. In addition to posting this article update to our subscribers online we’re also hosting a webinar in partnership with Spread the Vote this Friday at 1:00p EST. Spread the Vote has already disseminated the information on the updated CARE Act to dozens in-house contacts at jail facilities that we are working with through the Vote by Mail in Jail program (new contacts can sign up to be a part of VbMiJ via that link).
Now that the information is out there, we need to make sure that people are equipped to take full advantage, so after applying for funds on behalf of my readers I’m putting together a presentation to support others through that process. For folks who need help or have questions, please join me on Friday, October 9 at 1:00p EST via facebook live for How to Get Stimulus Money for Incarcerated Citizens for a in-depth presentation on how to apply for funds correctly. People who would like to assist incarcerated citizens who do not have someone on the outside to apply online on their behalf are also encouraged to attend the facebook livestream. Please share with others, the webinar is open to the public and free to view.
Livestream Event Page: https://fb.me/e/1B8X21zYN
Registration/Question Submission: https://forms.gle/KAKfZX8yoBrBmMRcA
Retribution vs. Rehabilitation

Retribution vs. Rehabilitation

What is the most effective approach to dealing with crime and punishment? Should the criminal justice system primarily be used to punish those who violate the law by sending them to prison for lengthy terms? Or should it rather serve as a mechanism for rehabilitation? This dichotomous question is a polarizing one that aligns people on opposite sides of this argument and has shaped our penal system since its inception.

When men and women come to prison, we invariably cost hard-working, law-abiding taxpayers across this country billions of dollars annually to feed, clothe, and house us. Our water, heat, medical and dental care are all paid for on the backs of hard-working Americans from all walks of life. Recidivism rates show that most of us who are eventually released will re-offend and return to these overcrowded prisons within three to five years, continuously costing taxpayers many more billions of dollars for our lengthy terms of incarceration. This bleak trend will, unfortunately, remain intact if prisons continue to be used to primarily warehouse inmates.

Statistics show the higher the education one attains while incarcerated, the greater the likelihood of his or her success in the community, leading to a lesser likelihood that he or she will return to prison. Subsequently, the longer he or she thrives in a productive role in society, the more he or she will feel like a member of a community and not a criminal outcast. Earning a college degree or becoming certified in a trade while in prison is the key to this radical transformation and reintegration into our communities.

Having noted these promising outcomes, I know it is also paramount that the individual who commits a violent felony pays for his or her crime by serving time in prison. The sensible thing to do is to ensure that prison doesn’t continue to have a revolving door that perpetually costs taxpayers and state budgets billions of dollars, but rather to educate prisoners so they can begin to contribute to society. Offer college and apprenticeship programs to prepare them for the ever-evolving technological and service-based occupations that comprise the 21st century economy. When people have more at stake to lose, they tend to think twice about risking it by doing something illegal.

Understandably, many would vociferously rebut this assertion by arguing, “So, we’re just supposed to reward criminals with a free college education?” My answer would be pragmatically blunt: “No, you don’t have to offer any education of substance at all, but either way you’re going to spend those same tax dollars — either on lengthy incarcerations for re-offenders or on education that would enable them to contribute to society in an economically and socially meaningful way.” Which scenario benefits society more?

I am dismayed that this country that offers abundant opportunity on one hand can simultaneously incarcerate more people per capita than any other nation on earth! We’ve become a state and nation that would rather warehouse human lives in the name of retribution than rehabilitate people for the greater good of our collective society. Ironically, every state in the Union includes the word “corrections” in reference to its prison system. The (fill-in-the-state) Department of Corrections sounds as though it is primarily designed to correct or rehabilitate its occupants — but how? This is paradoxical to say the very least.

Personally, I’ve been extremely blessed to have had the financial means and support from loved ones that have enabled me to attain a college education. When I started this journey in 2004, I’d made the decision to make the most of my time by getting a college education and becoming a substance abuse counselor. I didn’t know how this was going to happen, but I was nonetheless determined.

When I arrived at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in 2005, I began taking college courses one at a time for $25. After my father passed away, I used my portion of his life insurance policy to fund my education via correspondence. I began independently taking courses from other universities, earning a Certificate in Human Services from Louisiana State University, AA from Indiana University, BS in Sociology from Colorado State University, and an MS in Psychology from California Coast University. I was certified as a recovery mentor last year and recently as a substance abuse counselor. Good for me, but what about everyone else? It disheartens me when I think of the lack of opportunity for countless others in Oregon prisons because they have been institutionalized with no real opportunities to rehabilitate themselves and gain something tangible to show for it. Sadly, this deplorable trend will only continue if retribution over rehabilitation remains our state’s and nation’s motive for incarceration.