By Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Drug felons in Texas soon will be able to receive federal food assistance under a new policy that becomes effective next month.

The change makes Texas the 44th state to opt out of a Clinton-era ban that prevented people convicted of drug felonies from getting the aid, the San Antonio Express-News ( ) reported. Prohibitions still exist in Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Advocates like state Rep. Senfronia Thompson hailed the move in Texas, saying it helps ensure the felons don’t become repeat offenders.

“It isn’t about rewarding people convicted of crimes. It’s about making sure that they do not become repeat offenders, and to do that, we need to give them some help,” Thompson said. “This will give them an opportunity to regain respectability by going out into the marketplace and make a living.”

Opponents rejected that argument, contending that expanding the food-stamp program wastes taxpayer dollars and would encourage crime.

“What we’re talking about is using public tax dollars to expand the federal government’s food-stamp program to convicted drug offenders,” said state Rep. Matt Rinaldi. “I’m against allowing felons to feed at the public trough in an entitlement program such as that.”

Under the policy that’s set to take effect Sept. 1, first-time drug felons can get food stamps so long as they comply with the conditions of their parole and don’t commit a second offense while receiving assistance. They still won’t be eligible for cash help through welfare.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said the change could help many of the 56,860 residents in the state currently on Community Supervision for drug offenses, plus those who have cycled out of parole. It’s unknown, though, how many will seek food stamps.


Information from: San Antonio Express-News,

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