Tuesday, March 5, 1996


California Department of Corrections (CDC) Director James Gomez today called on the Social Security Administration (SSA) to focus on ending improper benefit payments to California prison inmates like serial killer William Bonin who received SSA benefits right up until he was executed February 23.

Bonin's social security number was provided to SSA in 1982, shortly after he arrived on death row, and again in August, 1990 when the social security number of every CDC inmate was provided to SSA. Criminal records show Bonin has used only one social security number.

"I am appalled to learn that despite all of our efforts, this serial killer was getting money from Social Security during the 14 years he was on death row," said CDC Director James Gomez. "The Social Security Administration should have stopped Bonin's checks long ago."

Social Security administrators in San Francisco indicate the benefit checks were deposited in a southern California bank in an account Bonin shared with a person SSA refused to identify.

"I sincerely hope that the federal government intends to prosecute whoever was helping a man who killed 14 children cash these checks. We will continue to provide full support to SSA so it can stop benefits to prison inmates," said Gomez.

Social Security administrators yesterday asked for an updated list of condemned inmates in California and their social security numbers. CDC immediately provided SSA with that list.

Since 1981, CDC has been providing the SSA the names and social security numbers of California prison inmates. A part of the agreement permits Social Security to share the information with the Veteran's Administration (VA) to prevent inmates from getting veteran's benefits illegally.

"We are doing everything possible to stop inmates from getting illegal payments from Social Security and the VA," said CDC Director James Gomez. "Besides providing Social Security with information, staff are instructed to intercept all government checks being mailed to inmates to determine if they are entitled to the money."

Each quarter, social security numbers of new inmates in the system are provided to Social Security's headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1990, the California Department of Corrections provided a computer tape containing the social security numbers of the more than 83,000 inmates then in state prison.