A plan has been released by the state to correct loopholes that have allowed inmates in Nevada to collect unemployment benefits. It was discovered through a routine audit and the Employment Security Division was given 60 days to issue a plan to correct it. That plan calls for more background checks and for cross checks within the state.
Of 97,000 claims audited, 67 were from inmates behind bars, 15 were from people who had died. According to the DETR Deputy Administrator Kelly Karch, those cases were re-investigated and the numbers were lowered. Only 41 inmates made claims, and only 3 of the 15 original claims from deceased actually were from people who had died. But the report calls for tightening up the process.
"We do have inmates who are on work programs who are considered incarcerated and yet eligible for unemployment benefits because they are in jail for a day or so and then they are out looking for work. And since we are using debit cards, it's easier for girlfriends and family to use those cards than say when we issued checks. And years ago we had people come into the office so we could see them, but now it's all done online and on the phone, so sure there will be some problems," said Karch.
So the DETR will be getting weekly roster reports from the Department of Prisons and will be checking backgrounds more closely to stop the leaks. And overall the Director of the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau says he feels this is how the system is supposed to work.
"The numbers aren't that bad when you consider we're processing so many unemployment claims in this state," said Rick Combs. "And this is how the system is supposed to work. We rotate the audits to all of the state departments to find where they can do better. And we've done that."
The DETR will submit a six month report to the Legislative Counsel Bureau in September.