Stimulus Checks Are Being Stolen by TDCJ-CID

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[Economics] [Abuse] [COVID-19]
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Stimulus Checks Are Being Stolen by TDCJ-CID

[MIM(Prisons) are not lawyers. The legal information provided by jailhouse lawyers in ULK is verified to the best of our ability. This particular issue seems like a winnable battle based on the information provided, but winning will take more effort by comrades in Texas.]

Prisoners in Texas are having the money from their stimulus checks taken by the state to pay fees and restitutions. Section 272(d)(2) of the Consolidated Appropriations Act provides that the second round of stimulus checks ‘shall not be transferable or assignable, at law or in equity, and no applicable payment shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.’ This means that this round of stimulus checks may not be garnished to cover overdue debts by federal or state prisons.(1)

The stimulus checks have the same protections as the United States Veteran Affairs Administration whom sends millions of checks across the country to incarcerated former military service men and women whom only get 10% of such checks.

People held by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correction Institutions Division(TDCJ-CID) are having their stimulus checks stolen from their inmate trust funds accounts due to debts owed in the following categories, with the percent of each deposit they will deduct for each category:

  1. federal court costs (20%)
  2. state court costs (10%)
  3. child support assistance (case-by-case)
  4. medical co-payments (50%)
  5. TDCJ-CID indigent supplies and postage (100%)
  6. TDCJ-CID disciplinary destroying prison’s property (100%)
  7. current/prior TDCJ sentences (old or new, no amount specified)

I have written a complaint – a TDCJ Step One Offender Grievance Form No. 2021020837 that said the direction would come form the IRS as to whether those stimulus checks would be exempt from collection. The response was that this “action was out of the control of the unit, no action warranted.”

Thereafter, I appealed that response in another complaint Step Two Offender Grievance Form. I wrote the agents in charge at the IRS Department of the Treasury in Austin, TX but never received any response.

Scholl v. Mnuchin, et al. No.4:20-cv-05309-PJH ND Cal.; Appeal Docket No. 20-16915 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of prisoners getting stimulus checks while incarcerated. The checks in question should not be confused with the most recent $1400 checks under current Presdient Joseph Biden. It was the $1200 and $600 checks under President Donald Trump that were ruled on. These checks should be issued whether one is incarcerated or not because everybody is affected by this global crisis.

According to The Intercept the TDCJ was ironically the only state they spoke to that claimed it was not garnishing stimulus checks to its prisoners. Many, if not all, states have seemingly been breaking the law in doing so.(2)

There is a solution to safe-guard some form of protection to those stimulus checks or other funds.

MIM(Prisons) adds: The author provided names of some companies that used to provide banking services for prisoners. These companies all seem to have closed down. We leave this note here as a suggestion for possible solutions to storing your stimulus money if you can find a similar service that is trusted.

Also note, that according to caresactprisoncase.org, if you have not filed the tax forms for the stimulus checks by 15 April 2021 you may not be able to receive them. At the same time, the official word has gone back and forth on how all this works.

Some comrades have written in to say they are boycotting the stimulus checks. While we agree that these stimulus checks are a means of buying off the population in U.$. borders with wealth stolen from the Third World, as individuals we can still do good things with this money. Like how we view investing in the stock market, we do not take a moralistic view of this money and encourage comrades to get the funds they are legally due and put them to good use in projects serving the people and building independent institutions of the oppressed.

Notes: 1. https://caresactprisoncase.org/incarcerated-people-are-eligible-for-second-round-of-stimulus-payments/
2. Asher Stockler and Daniel Moritz-Rabson, 17 February 2021, Prisons Are Skimming Big Chunks of CARES Act Stimulus Checks, A September court ruling promised incarcerated people their slice of the federal stimulus. Some prisons still took a cut, The Intercept.

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