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People incarcerated in jail or prison are eligible to receive the $1,400 stimulus checks despite an attempt by the Internal Revenue Service to block the payments.

When Congress authorized the stimulus, it included no restrictions on inmates receiving the money.

The issue has not been without controversy.

Previously, the IRS blocked the payments to prisoners. However, a federal judge ruled in the inmates' favor in September 2020, saying the IRS cannot withhold coronavirus relief payments from people who are incarcerated.

John Weaver, a retired correctional officer from New Boston, is one citizen who opposes the inmates receiving stimulus checks.

"It's sad that a lot of people have to hold down two jobs to make ends meet and there are inmates getting checks," he said. "We have veterans who need help and we need to take care of them first."

He also believes its unfair to the victims of violent crimes, when the offender can receive a stimulus check.

Weaver said he just wants people to be aware of the issue and maybe contact their Congressman if they are opposed to it.

To qualify for a stimulus check, inmates have to be a United States citizen or legal resident and have filed a tax return, or filed as part of a joint filing, or complete an IRS form requesting payment.

They also cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return.

In Bowie County, stimulus checks sent to inmates are deposited in the inmate's fund account, said Sheriff Jeff Neal.

"We put it on their trustfund account but have found a lot of them are signing them over to family members," Neal said.

Inmates' accounts are for things such as long-distance phone calls or snacks from the commissary, he said.

When the inmate gets out of jail, they can take the remaining balance of the account with them. Medical charges that have occurred in the facility can be garnished from the stimulus checks, as well, Neal said.

The Miller County Detention Center has been allowing individuals in custody to fill out the 1040 form according to the directions by the IRS for those persons who are incarcerated, said Warden Jeffie Walker.

"We have had multiple individuals who have received stimulus checks last year and this year," Walker said. These checks have been utilized by the individuals to purchase commissary items, phone time, medical copays, bond fees and even transferred to family members"

Prisoners have been eligible for all three rounds of stimulus checks, according to the IRS.

The first stimulus checks could be garnished for child support payments but the second and third checks have had greater protection from garnishment.

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