/Senate to revisit lifetime ban on food stamps, assistance for Mississippians with felony drug convictions

Senate to revisit lifetime ban on food stamps, assistance for Mississippians with felony drug convictions

The U.S. government banned drug-related felonies from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP), or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families(TANF) programs. These forms of cash assistance, which re-entry advocates claim can help people get back on track and feed their families after they have been released from prison, were implemented in 1996 as part of its welfare reforms. States can still opt out of this ban. Mississippi is one of the three remaining states that opt in to the ban. This was a point made last week by Senator Sally Doty (R-Brookhaven), as she amended a criminal Justice Reform bill to include a provision to lift SNAP’s ban. Doty said last week that anyone with a conviction for a violent crime can get food stamps. She also stated that someone with a drug felony should not be treated differently. The state Department of Human Services administers both SNAP-TANF programs. Currently, applicants must be screened for a previous drug felony conviction. According to data from Second Chance Mississippi, the ban could affect an estimated 67,376 people. Doty praised SNAP, pointing out its work requirements and income, as well the education programs that people who are SNAP recipients can participate in. She said, “It’s the kind of program we need people who are trying to rebuild their lives.” Research shows that lifting the SNAP ban decreases the chance that drug-convicts released from prison within a year. Rep. Jarvis Dortch (D-Raymond) stated that he believes that the state Department of Human Services can provide such assistance to drug convicts, even though it is legally prohibited from doing so. A spokesperson for DHS said that the agency had no comment on the legislation. Last week, Dortch sponsored a separate bill to repeal the ban on people with felonies. Critics argue that a ban does not just affect individuals but their families as well. The ban is applicable to every household where the person with a drug felony lives. Dortch stated in an interview that the ban should not be applied to children living in this household because their father or mother took a bad drug decision or were addicted. “It shouldn’t be something that we punish an entire family over.” According to information provided by the Center for Justice in January to the state’s Re-Entry Council, such a ban could also have a disproportionate impact on women in the state. The Center for Justice noted that women are more likely to take part in SNAP and TANF, as well as to be convicted for a drug felony. SNAP is fully federally funded so any changes to the provision will not cost the state anything. S.B. The bill, S.B. 2791, was praised alongside a House bill that included similar measures to benefit people who have been released from prison and are looking for work. Both bills contain reforms regarding drug courts, driver’s license suspensions and expungements. However, only the Senate bill contains any language about the SNAP ban. Gov. Gov. The House legislation was passed last week. However, the Senate bill is still being debated.