Denying Food Stamps to a Person with a Drug Conviction Hurts Children
Date:  08-06-2015

States should abolish food stamp ban that only applies to drug crimes
Some lawmakers actually believe that banning food stamps or welfare to those convicted of drug crimes serves as a deterrent to stopping the sale or use of illegal drugs. That idea is ludicrous. Anyone familiar with the criminal justice system knows that low-level drug sellers often work in the business because they can’t afford food or housing for themselves or their families due to them notbeing able to be hired for a legal job. Big time drug distributors making hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars each year have no need at all for food stamps or welfare. Drug addiction is a disease, and the government should not deny food to a population whose health is almost sure to be deterioratingalready.

The fact that only people convicted of drug crimes are denied food stamps or welfare benefits in several states, or have restrictions put upon receiving them in most others, is a matter of blatant discrimination.

Banning food stamps to those convicted of drug crime came into play during a time when the “war on drugs” was riding a huge swell of popularity among citizens and politicians who believed that creating and implementing the harshest of punishments would put an end to drug abuse in America. It didn’t, and the “war on drugs” became the “war on people,” particularly people of color and low-income people.

A Pew Charitable Trusts article that appeared in Stateline provides a heartbreaking look at how the ban on food stamps and welfare benefits negatively impacted Jordyn,a child with stomach cancer who needed a special diet of fresh food. The child’s father had been convicted of a drug crime in 1998, but after leaving prison turned his life around. Thousands of children in this country are left hungry because of the “sins” of their fathers, or mothers; sins, which incidentally, were paid for by serving time in prison.

The Stateline article, States Rethink Restrictions on Food Stamps, Welfare for Drug Felons starts here:

Johnny Waller Jr.’s 1998 felony drug conviction has haunted him since the day he left a Nebraska prison in 2001. Waller, now 38, applied for 175 jobs without getting one. He had trouble getting a federal loan for college because of his drug conviction, so he started his own janitorial business, in Kansas City, Missouri. And when his toddler son, Jordyn, was diagnosed with stomach cancer and needed full-time care, Waller’s record disqualified him from receiving food stamps. “I really needed assistance there,” Waller said of the time in 2007 he had to give up his job to care for Jordyn. But he couldn’t get it, he said, because of a conviction “when I was 18 years old that didn’t have anything to do with my son.”

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are serving time for drug offenses—nearly a half-million according to the latest numbers available, from 2013. For many like Waller, leaving prison with a felony conviction on their record adds to the hurdles they face re-entering society. A 1996 federal law blocks felons with drug convictions from receiving welfare or food stamps unless states choose to waive the restrictions.
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