Nearly 4,000 US prisoners were sent $250 (£154) economic stimulus cheques by the government to encourage them to go shopping. Officials revealed yesterday that 2,200 convicts were entitled to the money because they had been free when eligibility was determined, although 1,700 prisoners got $425,000 of taxpayers’ money in error.
As a leading Republican in Congress, Eric Cantor, branded the payments “unacceptable”, the US social security administration said many cheques were returned by jails, and that the mistake was a tiny part of Barack Obama’s $787bn stimulus effort.
Andrew Clark in New York
Thursday 27 August 2009 00.39 BST