Hungry and Broke but Have a Drug Felony? MO Still One of Few States That Says: "Starve"

Categories: Drugs

"Most people returning home from prison had been struggling in some significant way prior to their involvement with the criminal justice system," the study says. "Surveys consistently show that substantial proportions of people who are incarcerated have histories of substance abuse, mental health issues, homelessness, or physical or sexual abuse. Without proper support, these individuals may continue to struggle with similar issues upon their release from prison."

Some effects of the TANF and SNAP ban, according to the study:

• It's already hard to get a job as a felon, but no access to cash assistance or food stamps makes it even more difficult to secure the basics in order to find a job and get back on one's feet.

• Many drug felons have drug addictions and need to use treatment centers. However, treatment centers have long depended on TANF and SNAP programs to offset the costs of their own programs. No benefits means higher costs for drug treatment, which means fewer people can get help.

• Children of drug felons are able to get benefits, but because their parent is not, the total amount of assistance a household receives is decreased, which inevitably impacts children.

• Public health is impacted because overall nutrition is worse and women are more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as prostitution, to obtain money, which can lead to increased HIV cases.

mims.jpg
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Rep. Bonnaye Mims
This has been an issue in Missouri for a few years now, with several attempts by activists and lawmakers to get the ban lifted. And in 2008, a Missouri group put out a study that echoed many of the points argued by the Sentencing Project. The idea has had support from both parties, but always seems to get stuck somewhere in committee.

Most recently, Rep. Bonnaye Mims (D-Kansas City) has proposed lifting the food stamp ban.

"I'm not saying that drugs is a good thing, but they have served their time," Mims said, according to the El Dorado Springs Sun. "They served their punishment for whatever it is that happened. They deserve a chance."

See also: St. Louis judges turn to Transcendental Meditation to rehab convicted felons

Follow Ray Downs on Twitter:

E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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18 comments
Chris Ferguson
Chris Ferguson

Most of those drug laws that they run afoul of should be repealed. This is just yet another symptom

Jessica Mantia
Jessica Mantia

You say "most of them". I've received food stamps in the past, and I eventually worked my way up to no longer need them. I wasn't irresponsible with my money. Don't lump everyone in one group.

Jeremy J Whaley
Jeremy J Whaley

I used to be proud to be from St. Louis now I am just happy to be in Seattle.

Steven Pinkerton
Steven Pinkerton

Children still get stamps and those kids get free food at school, both breakfast and lunch. Maybe the cigarettes, beer and drugs should fall off their grocery list and they could afford the essentials, not hot fries and juice drinks, etc. You are making this out to be much worse than it really is. I see reality every night I go to work in the hood. The reality is, most are irresponsible with the money they get and then cry wolf to get more!

Steven Pinkerton
Steven Pinkerton

Just over 25 percent of women in prison are in for a drug crime. And women make up 85.9 percent of all TANF recipients and are twice as likely as men to receive food stamps.

Steven Pinkerton
Steven Pinkerton

When does personal responsibility, not only of the individual, but of the individual's family and friends ever kick in??? It is not my personal responsibility to fund government social programs that benefits politicians. That is redistribution of wealth, which IS socialism. It is my responsibility as an individual who believes in God to help those in need with a hand up, not a hand out! If there are no consequences for anyone's actions, nobody will ever be FORCED to be responsible and the end of freedom will come sooner, rather than later! Why do you think there is no more sense of community? Because we don't depend on one another any more, we depend on government to do what it is our duty to do for one another! That is abdicating our responsibility and diluting our freedoms out of sheer laziness! Help your neighbor, family and friends and we will no longer need welfare!!!

Alex Rathgeb
Alex Rathgeb

Good idea...take folks who already have shown a willingness to break the rules to fill a "need," and then give them a real need like starvation. Gee, I wonder what happens next? I'm not for handouts, but at some point, especially for non-violent offenders, enough punishment already...the State needs to let it go at some point...Geez.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

and we all know how well that turns out.

Sharon Johnson
Sharon Johnson

This is nothing but revenge, and it makes no sense otherwise.

Matt Weaver
Matt Weaver

Right or not making it hard for someone to get a job because of some non violent crime they committed when they were a teenager that may he a good start.

DoucheMcGee
DoucheMcGee topcommenter

So people that commit violent felonies still can get these benefits? kinda crazy - they should all lose them.

Orlan Brown
Orlan Brown

So 5 years incarceration then 1 year probation and no food stamps for life? At some point on this timeline, the debt owed to society is paid. Sounds like institutionalized discrimination to me. When someone is released from prison, they have "earned" their second chance!

Lynn Pevey
Lynn Pevey

Why not instead of giving felons free stuff we make them earn it for their second chance and pass better federal tax incentives to businesses who give felons a second chance at jobs and those felons who remain financially independent for a period of time plus pay their child support in a timely manner??? I think that would be a better alternative than the state to just be expected to hand out free meal tickets for those who need a good swift kick to the arse above all else with their stupidity to get locked up for crap in the first place. We need to help redefine our family role models especially those who have family members that are or have been incarcerated for crimes. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day...Teach a man to fish and he can eat forever. ;)

aaronmccoy242
aaronmccoy242 topcommenter

They should definitely get food stamps........  And guns, give them guns too.  Also, to better communicate with their families the govt should issue free smartphones and free unlimited data plans.  In exchange all you have to do is wear shirts that say "I am a victim, accountable for none of my actions" 

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