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Louisiana paid out $6.2 million in unemployment benefits to people in jails and prisons in 2020, says audit



BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana’s Workforce Commission improperly paid out almost $6.2 million in unemployment benefits to nearly 1,200 people in jails and prisons in 2020, according to a report by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.

People who are incarcerated are prevented from receiving unemployment because they are unable to obtain employment, a requirement to receive the benefit.

The report found that 92 of those incarcerated people were only given a single payment before the error was caught, but nearly 1,100 people received more than one payment, with some getting payments from March 2020 through November 2020.

The audit said that the LWC is supposed to match lists of people set to receive unemployment benefits with lists of people who are incarcerated to prevent such mistakes.

According to the audit, 80 percent of those who received the payments, obtained them through the COVID-related program designed for contractors and gig workers, who do not have an employer.

“As a result, LWC does not have electronic wage data to use for eligibility purposes and instead must rely upon the amount of income reported by the applicant on their app.”