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Malta Prisoner Obtains Partial Pension Benefit

By Christopher Zoukis

Today we have an interesting case out of Malta, where a prisoner is asserting that he is entitled to his full retirement pension benefits even though he is currently incarcerated in a prison.

The story starts in 2003 when a man by the name of Paul Hill attempted to murder Victor Testa by repeatedly beating him in the head with a wooden plank.  Come August 2004, Mr. Hill was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.  Upon appeal, the Court of Appeal reduced Mr. Hill’s sentence to 12 years imprisonment.

Prior to Mr. Hill’s imprisonment, he was an employee of Air Malta.  In 2011, he turned 61, the age his retirement pension would vest.  As such, while in prison, he applied for pension benefits.

While Mr. Hill’s pension application was accepted, a decision was made against him which stated that he would only receive half of his pension while in custody.  This way his wife would be supported while he was in prison, and that upon his release from custody he would receive his full pension benefits.

The case becomes even more convoluted when the Social Security Department uncovered that Mr. Hill’s wife was already receiving an invalid pension.  This resulted in an agreement being struck between the Social Security Department and Mr. Hill’s wife which stipulated that she was ineligible for half of Mr. Hill’s pension.  Since she had already received 9,257 Euros of Mr. Hill’s pension, she agreed to reimburse the Social Security Department with 5 percent of each future payment, until the 9,257 Euros issued to her in error were paid back.

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Opposition to New York’s College-in-Prison Plan Grows Despite Mountain of Supportive Research

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy cnn.com

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has put into action a plan to greatly expand college in prison offerings in the state of New York.  This plan will result in one prison in each of New York’s prison regions offering college programs to inmates, in which they could earn either an associates or bachelor’s degree.  While many have applauded Governor Cuomo’s efforts, including the labor-backed Working Families Party, which released a statement from their State Director Bill Lipton asserting, “We applaud the Governor’s bold initiative to combat the high rates of recidivism in New York through the power of education,” others have objected, and publicly so.

Opponents of Governor Cuomo’s prison education plan have included the following:

  • U.S. Representative Christopher Collins (R-Clarence) objected, saying that not only does he oppose the prison education proposal, but that he would go so far as to introduce legislation to bar the federal government from being able to finance any college-in-prison programs.  He said the prison education plan was “an insult to law abiding citizens across our state.”  He continued, “Strangely, many of these same politicians think tax dollars should be spent to give convicted criminals a free college degree.”
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