8 States Give Convicts Access To Social Security Numbers In Jobs


Prisons in eight states let convicts work in jobs that give them access to Social Security numbers and other personal information, despite years of warnings that the practice should end, says a federal audit reported by USA Today. Most of the prisoners hold jobs processing public records for federal, state and local governments, according to the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General. The work often involves entering and processing data on documents such as student transcripts, tax files, and health care and labor claims forms.
“Although we recognize there may be benefits in allowing prisoners to work while incarcerated, we question whether prisoners have a need to know other individuals’ Social Security numbers,” the audit says. “Allowing prisoners access to Social Security numbers increases the risk that individuals may improperly obtain and misuse (the data).” The Social Security Administration has no power to force states to halt the practice and urges passage of legislation pending in Congress that would bar states from giving prisoners jobs where they have access to private citizens’ personal information. States where prisoners hold such jobs: Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia. In Kansas, a prisoner was found last year to have stolen names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers while in a job making digital images of public records.

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