Emancipate NC is working on efforts to make sure incarcerated people get the CARES Act stimulus funds (COVID-19 payments) they are entitled to. In March and April, it was discovered that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was routinely denying people who were incarcerated on March 27, 2020 or anytime after from receiving their payments.

On August 1, 2020, Lieff Cabraser and the Equal Justice Society filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of the Treasury and the IRS demanding that incarcerated people in state and federal facilities be granted their payments. Eventually, on September 24, U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton ordered the Treasury and the IRS to stop withholding payments to anyone who is incarcerated. The deadline to file by mail for stimulus payments was also extended to being postmarked by November 4, 2020, and the deadline to file online is now November 21, 2020.

To ensure incarcerated people in North Carolina can request their stimulus funds before the deadline, Emancipate NC staff and interns created informational packets and mailed them to contacts in prisons across North Carolina. A hotline for incarcerated people to ask questions and receive help completing their requests has also been created. With many work release programs being cancelled across the state, access to these stimulus funds will make a big difference in the lives of people incarcerated in North Carolina’s facilities.