Crime reportedly doesn't pay, but Uncle Sam recently handed out $250 checks to almost 4,000 jailed felons.
The payments were mistakenly issued as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, popularly known as the February 2009 stimulus law.
Under the Making Work Pay credit portion of the new law, workers have seen a smaller amount of payroll taxes withheld from their paychecks.
But folks who don't have jobs also got a stimulus benefit. Separate $250 checks were sent to 54.4 million beneficiaries of Social Security, veterans and federal railroad payments.
Excuse me in advance for pointing out the obvious: For the most part, the stimulus checks were sent in error.
Around 2,200 of the incarcerated recipients, however, can keep their checks. While jailed convicts generally are ineligible to receive federal benefits, the Social Security Administration says that inmates who were not in prison between November 2008 and January 2009 can legally accept them.
As for the other inmates, federal officials are trying to track down the errant checks and get the money back.
The Boston Herald broke the story, noting that the Bay State's inmate recipients included a convicted first-degree murderer, three prisoners jailed for second-degree murder and five convicted rapists.
Here in Texas, the Austin American-Statesman reports that prison officials held onto 240 stimulus checks that arrived at state lockups until it was confirmed that the prisoners were eligible to receive the money.
After double-checking, LoneStar State officials sent back all 214 incorrectly issued Veterans Affairs checks. Seven of the 24 Social Security checks that were sent to prisoners were cashed. The two recipients of stimulus-related Railroad Retirement checks also were allowed to cash them.
The Social Security Administration Inspector General says his office also is investigating whether any improper payments were made to dead beneficiaries, felons on the run from the law, individuals living overseas and recipients no longer legally authorized to live in the United States.