Wisconsin Legislators Float Requiring Criminals Use Stimulus to Pay for Crimes

Wisconsin Legislators Float Requiring Criminals Use Stimulus to Pay for Crimes
Blank checks are seen on an idle press at the Philadelphia Regional Financial Center in Philadelphia on May 8, 2009. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)
Zachary Stieber

Wisconsin lawmakers are pushing a legislative proposal that would force convicted criminals of using any money they receive from federal stimulus packages to pay for restitution for the crimes they committed.

“Any COVID recovery rebates from the federal government received on or after the effective date of this subsection by a person who is incarcerated in this state shall be applied first to satisfy any restitution the person has been ordered to pay,” the proposed act states.

State Sen. Julian Bradley and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, both Republicans, co-sponsored the bill.

Under the COVID-19 relief package that Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed this month, prisoners will get stimulus checks.

“President Biden’s irresponsible stimulus package sends stimulus checks to imprisoned murderers, rapists, and child molesters. So, Rep. Sanfelippo and I are taking action to ensure the victims of these heinous crimes are paid restitution before criminals sitting in prison can profit. This bill is a commonsense proposal I hope legislators on both sides of the aisle can support,” Bradley, a Republican, told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

A spokesperson for the senator declined to say if staffers have been in touch with the office of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, on the bill.

State Rep. Francesca Hong, a Democrat, said she opposes the proposal.

“Bipartisanship is what the majority of people want us to fight for. But it does not include racists and their punitive and dehumanizing agenda. There are fundamental differences in decency between the two parties right now. One is blatantly for white supremacy the other is not,” she said in a tweet.

Bradley, who is black, said on a radio show this week that the personal attacks from Hong and a staffer were “unbelievable.”

“It’s really sad to see them just get so personal and so nasty, but it’s part of the Democrat party playbook. Find a bill you don’t like, you go to the playbook, you look up what should you do, what should you say in response. [If] it comes out from a Republican, you accuse them of being a racist. That’s their playbook, that’s what they like to go to,” he said.

“But the problem they’re having, and the problem they’ve had with me since I’ve been a member of the Republican party since 2002, is I completely upend their narrative, that all black people must be liberal, socialist Democrats. So, they’re frustrated. They don’t know how else to combat the fact that this bill just makes sense.”

Republican senators tried to block payments to prisoners when the U.S. Senate was amending the package prior to its passage, but the proposed amendment was voted down.

All Democrats voted against it, while all Republicans voted in favor.

A federal judge ruled last year that prisoners could get stimulus checks from the first stimulus, the CARES Act, which Congress passed in March 2020.

The IRS had said any payments made to someone who is incarcerated should be returned to the service, but U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, a Clinton appointee, decided prisoners could not be excluded under the legislation’s language.

Hamilton later rejected an appeal from the government.