Senate Accepts Proposal to Keep Food Stamps From Ex-Cons

Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana presented the amendment, which will largely affect blacks, and received bipartisan support.

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Colorlines

Food stamps are on the chopping block again. This time Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana has presented an amendment to permanently drop ex-violent offenders from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, reports Colorlines. Does this remind anyone else of that other proposal to cut food stamps to families with children underperforming in school?

According to Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Democrats in the Senate obliged him. The amendment is for a farm bill, which is currently being debated in the Senate.

Says Greenstein:

The amendment would bar from SNAP (food stamps), for life, anyone who was ever convicted of one of a specified list of violent crimes at any time — even if they committed the crime decades ago in their youth and have served their sentence, paid their debt to society, and been a good citizen ever since. In addition, the amendment would mean lower SNAP benefits for their children and other family members.

So, a young man who was convicted of a single crime at age 19 who then reforms and is now elderly, poor, and raising grandchildren would be thrown off SNAP, and his grandchildren’s benefits would be cut ... Democrats accepted it without trying to modify it to address its most ill-considered aspects ...

According to Greenstein, if this amendment ends up in the farm bill and passes, it would hit African Americans particularly hard:

Given incarceration patterns in the United States, the amendment would have a skewed racial impact. Poor elderly African Americans convicted of a single crime decades ago by segregated Southern juries would be among those hit.

Read more at Colorlines.

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Sept. 19 2014 8:34 AM