Proposed Legislation Would Lift the State’s Prohibition on Food Assistance for Life| Latest News!

Lawmakers in Nebraska are contemplating a bill that would lift a lifetime restriction on receiving federal food aid for anybody convicted of federal drug offenses.

Legislative Bill 121’s supporters argue that it will assist Nebraska in moving past legislation enacted during the so-called war on drugs in the 1990s that resulted in widespread incarceration across the country.

It is no one’s benefit that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, has been suspended,

according to Jasmine Harris, director of public policy and activism for the nonprofit RISE. She claims that the program is no longer in operation.

According to Harris, “It does nothing more than erect another barrier, invisible handcuffs if you will, for persons who have already served their term.”

Food Assistance for Life

“So why are we imposing another sanction on them when they have already done what the court ordered them to do?”

People convicted of narcotics felonies are barred from receiving SNAP assistance for the rest of their lives under federal law, but states have the option to opt-out.

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Some exemptions are available in Nebraska, based on a person’s criminal past and whether or not they have completed substance abuse treatment programs. Anyone who has served time for felony drug distribution will continue to face a lifetime ban.

Senate Majority Leader Megan Hunt, D-Omaha, who has made the legislation a priority, stated that Nebraskans who are released from prison must be able to satisfy their basic requirements in order to properly reintegrate back into their communities.

She reminded out that food aid is crucial for everyone, not just the people who qualify for it.

“We’re also talking about the presence of children in the home, which is usual. This is just another precaution that we can put in place to ensure that many children who live in extreme poverty do not lose their eligibility for SNAP assistance.

In addition, poverty and food insecurity impose a significant financial burden on the government.”

When people are unable to obtain food, according to Harris, they are more prone to resort to criminal activity in order to maintain themselves financially.

It costs $46,000 a year to keep someone incarcerated in the United States. Specifically, Harris argued that the law will save taxpayers money by reducing the number of people who rejoin prison, as well as providing relief to prisons that are already operating at 146 percent of their capacity.

“This helps to reduce the congestion situation,” Harris emphasized emphatically. “If we can get people out of prison, assist them with their basic needs, and put them on the right road, they are less likely to re-enter our criminal justice system.”