Each year, hundreds of thousands of people released from U.S. prisons after felony drug convictions discover that serving time isn't their only punishment.
They are permanently denied the life-sustaining benefits of food stamps and other public assistance. The restrictions come from the 1996 welfare reform legislation, which was adopted at a time when politicians in Washington were maneuvering to be perceived as tough on crime. Its clear that their fight for political survival blinded them to the negative impacts this ban would have on men and women trying to reestablish their lives after prison stays. Needless to say, it also has a huge impact on their children.
Eleven states have adopted the federal restrictions without any changes. In these states, benefits are permanently denied. It doesnt matter how long ago the crime was committed or successful the rehabilitation whether through a strong work history, drug and alcohol counseling, or by avoiding repeat offenses.
Thirty states have altered the ban to allow people who meet certain conditions to receive food stamps or welfare assistance. Most times, the conditions include participating in alcohol and drug treatment sessions, passing drug tests, or staying out of trouble for a certain period of time.
Nine states have lifted the ban entirely.