Eliminate the Lifetime Ban on SNAP Benefits

for Drug-related Convictions

 

 

LB 121 would remove the SNAP benefits lifetime ban for individuals with a

conviction for drug distribution or with three or more felony convictions for

possession or use of controlled substances.

To read LB 121: https://nebraskalegislature.gov/bills/view_bill.php?DocumentID=43483

 

POLICY BACKGROUND

   *Currently, 43 states have opted out or modified food stamp access bans,

18 who have eliminated their ban entirely….including Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota.

   *NE has no other bans on SNAP eligibility for any other convictions; those who commit

assault, robbery, and even child trafficking.

   *In NE, 16.8% of children under age 18 are living in poverty. That is

77,000 children living in poverty…a number that can be reduced by removing barriers to receiving SNAP benefits.

   *These types of bans disproportionately affect black individuals:

   *In 2018 , black people were three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession  than their white counter parts, even with similar rates of use between both populations.

   *In 2016, Black Americans were approximately 13.5% of the overall population in the US, however, they comprised 27% of all individual arrests.

   *Black youth made up 35% of all juvenile arrests in 2016, yet, they made up only 15% of the US children.

 

ISSUE

   *Under current statute, an individual with a conviction for drug distribution or with three or more felony convictions for possession or use of controlled substances is ineligible to receive SNAP benefits. Additionally, individuals with one or two use or possession convictions must  undergo substance abuse therapy before becoming eligible for SNAP benefits.

 

PROPOSED LEGISLATION

   *LB 121: A bill to remove the SNAP benefits lifetime ban for individuals with a conviction  for drug distribution or with 3 or more felony convictions for possession or use of controlled substances.

 

INTENDED EFFECTS

   *The intent of LB 121 is to remove a major barrier to successful reintegration for formerly incarcerated people, while also reducing hunger for their families.

 

SUPPORTING EVIDENCE

   *A study at the University of Maryland in 2018 also gives us an idea of how this could play out in NE.  This study looked at individuals who committed drug related crimes in Florida before and after a lifetime SNAP ban was introduced in the state.  The study found that individuals who were convicted of drug related crimes after the SNAP restrictions were imposed were 9% more likely to return to prison and that crimes that resulted in recidivism were primarily purred by financial need.

 

FISCAL IMPACT

   *A person convicted of a drug felony spends an average of 1.6 years in  jail.  The average cost to incarcerate a person for one year in NE is $35,950.  All SNAP benefits are federally funded and the state only has to share 50% of the cost of administration.  According to fiscal analysis provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, this regulation change would result in costs so minimal that the department would be able to absorb them.

 

How YOU can learn more about LB 121 and related issues:

  1. See information at civicnebraska.org, a nonpartisan site aiming to build a more fair and robust democracy for all Nebraska

How YOU can support passage of LB 121

  1. Write a postcard or email your state legislator.  Lookup to find your Nebraska State Senator: https://nebraskalegislature.gov/senators/senator_find.php

  2. Call your legislator and voice your support for LB 121

  3. Let fellow Nebraskans know of your support for  LB121  

 

Others supporting passage of LB 121: Nebraska Appleseed, ACLU Nebraska, Omaha Police Department, Nebraska Catholic Conference, Open Sky Policy, Together

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