News

June 4, 2015

HB 222 Would Increase Hunger for Women. Permanently.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly is considering legislation that would re-impose the lifetime “felony drug ban” on SNAP recipients, making certain people who have felony drug convictions ineligible for SNAP and TANF for life. This is an issue of concern to anti-hunger advocates as well as advocates for women in recovery, trafficking victimes and domestic violence survivors.

Ten years ago, advocates worked together to get the lifetime ban on benefits lifted in Pennsylvania, so that women in recovery could get the help they need to rebuild their lives and their families.  Now a bill is pending in the state House of Representatives that would re-impose the lifetime ban—women with felony drug convictions, even for small amounts of drugs, would be unable to get public benefits including SNAP for the rest of their lives.  The bill as drafted applies to almost all convictions for possession with intent to deliver, regardless of the quantity or value of the drugs involved, and regardless of whether there was a sale or only sharing of drugs. The only exception is first time marijuana possession with intent to deliver. Women’s addictions often result from physical or sexual abuse, and their efforts to self-medicate the pain of abuse in the absence of other resources. Women’s convictions often result from small amounts of drugs, and often occur in the context of coercion resulting from abuse or human trafficking.

Read the Bill.

Please support women and men struggling to recover from addictions and from abuse, and ask your state Representative to OPPOSE HB 222.  It is expected to be voted on early in the week of June 8.

 

Sample email:

Dear Representative ___________:

We urge you to oppose HB 222, legislation which would re-impose a ban on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and other public benefits for people with a drug felony conviction. The Pennsylvania legislature repealed this ban over ten years ago at the request of drug treatment providers, prosecutors, and domestic violence advocates.

I am/We are particularly concerned about the impact of the legislation on women. HB 222 will harm women in recovery from drug addiction by reinstating the ban. Under this legislation, women with felony drug convictions, even for small amounts of drugs, would be unable to get public benefits for the rest of their lives. Women’s addictions often result from physical or sexual abuse, and their efforts to self-medicate the pain of abuse in the absence of other resources. Women’s convictions often result from small amounts of drugs, and often occur in the context of coercion resulting from abuse or human trafficking. After these women have served their sentences and complied with all conditions of probation and parole, it is counterproductive to deny them help as they are putting their lives back together.

Please support women struggling to recover from addictions and from abuse by opposing HB 222. Thank you.

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