A new audit finds inmates in New Jersey have been collecting millions of dollars in unemployment, health care and retirement benefits while behind bars.
The report by state Comptroller Matt Boxer released Wednesday shows the state paid $23 million to more than 20,000 prisoners over a 22-month period ending in April 2011.
The inmates received jobless benefits, Medicaid coverage, food stamps, Work First cash assistance and state pension checks.
"Suffice it to say that when thousands of inmates are collecting unemployment checks from behind bars, there is a serious gap in program oversight," Boxer said. "The good news is that as a result of our audit, changes are being made that will save millions of dollars for taxpayers."
Boxer says the reason is that state agencies administering the public assistance programs failed to review county and state inmate data before awarding government benefits.
Boxer says the state departments responsible for administering each of the programs have vowed to recover the misspent money and to cross-check inmate data.