Recommendation: Congress should eliminate the ban on federally funded cash assistance and food stamps for people convicted of drug felonies. People should not be barred for life from obtaining these benefits because it is unfair and counterproductive to goals of increasing public safety and promoting self-sufficiency. These benefits assist people who need drug treatment, job training and other assistance to become stable and employed. In the absence of changes to the federal law, states should pass legislation to opt out of the ban, or at a minimum, restrict the ban so those people who seek or participate in treatment, complete their sentences, or meet other criteria can remain eligible for public assistance and food stamps.

Best practices: Ohio (OHIO REV. CODE ANN. §§ 5101.821 and .84) and New Hampshire (N.H. REV. STAT. ANN. § 167:81-a) are two of the 12 states that have opted out of the federal ban completely.

Copyright 2008-2009 by the Legal Action Center. All Rights Reserved.