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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, May 26, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesFEDS WITHHOLD V.I. FUNDS OVER $12M IN UNPAID DEBT

FEDS WITHHOLD V.I. FUNDS OVER $12M IN UNPAID DEBT

Because the V.I. government owes the Federal Bureau of Prisons nearly $12 million, the U.S. Department of Treasury has started to hold back federal funding headed to the territory.
In a release Thursday, Delegate Donna Christian Christensen said the V.I. government owes the money for prisoners housed off-island in federal prisons.
"In February, our office facilitated a meeting with Attorney General (Iver) Stridiron and Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Sawyer to find a more amenable resolution to this problem," Christensen said. "The bureau made it clear at that time that failure to remit payment would affect future funds coming into the territory. In light of this recent action, I urge our local officials to work with the Bureau of Prisons to make alternate payment arrangements as soon as possible."
Lo’an Sewer, Christensen’s public information officer, said on Friday that the delegate’s office didn’t have exact numbers on what funds have been withheld by the Treasury Department or when the decision was made to offset the funding to the territory.
"Hopefully sometime next week we’ll get more specifics" on which departments are affected, how much money is involved and what the breakdowns are, she said. "We didn’t want to withhold that this was happening."
According to Christensen, only three payments have been made on the prison debt since 1990. The V.I. Bureau of Prisons has said that the offsets will continue until the territory reaches an agreement with the federal government or until the debt is satisfied.
The withholding of V.I. funds is being done as a result of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, which provides that any non-tax debt or claim owed to the U.S. that has been delinquent for a period of 180 days shall be turned over to the Secretary of the Treasury for appropriate action to collect or terminate collection actions on the debt or claim, Christensen said.
Neither the V.I. Attorney General’s office nor the Bureau of Prisons could be reached for comment Friday due to the local holiday. Calls to the U.S. Treasury Department were not immediately returned Friday.

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Because the V.I. government owes the Federal Bureau of Prisons nearly $12 million, the U.S. Department of Treasury has started to hold back federal funding headed to the territory.
In a release Thursday, Delegate Donna Christian Christensen said the V.I. government owes the money for prisoners housed off-island in federal prisons.
"In February, our office facilitated a meeting with Attorney General (Iver) Stridiron and Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Sawyer to find a more amenable resolution to this problem," Christensen said. "The bureau made it clear at that time that failure to remit payment would affect future funds coming into the territory. In light of this recent action, I urge our local officials to work with the Bureau of Prisons to make alternate payment arrangements as soon as possible."
Lo’an Sewer, Christensen’s public information officer, said on Friday that the delegate’s office didn’t have exact numbers on what funds have been withheld by the Treasury Department or when the decision was made to offset the funding to the territory.
"Hopefully sometime next week we’ll get more specifics" on which departments are affected, how much money is involved and what the breakdowns are, she said. "We didn’t want to withhold that this was happening."
According to Christensen, only three payments have been made on the prison debt since 1990. The V.I. Bureau of Prisons has said that the offsets will continue until the territory reaches an agreement with the federal government or until the debt is satisfied.
The withholding of V.I. funds is being done as a result of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, which provides that any non-tax debt or claim owed to the U.S. that has been delinquent for a period of 180 days shall be turned over to the Secretary of the Treasury for appropriate action to collect or terminate collection actions on the debt or claim, Christensen said.
Neither the V.I. Attorney General’s office nor the Bureau of Prisons could be reached for comment Friday due to the local holiday. Calls to the U.S. Treasury Department were not immediately returned Friday.