The 2013 Senate Farm Bill was amended to make those who have been convicted of violent crimes ineligible for the food stamps program. The amendment was passed with the agreement of both Democrats and Republicans. The new requirements were suggested by senator David Vitter of Louisiana, who also introduced another amendment that would supposedly end the Obama phone program. The farm bill, which is a large piece of legislation that has been passed every few years to help regulate and fund the food programs throughout the country, is known to include some language which would cut food stamps by around 4.1 billion dollars.
Under the current law, there is a lifetime ban for those who have been convicted of crimes, such as drug felons. However, there are some states that have opted out of or modified the ban as a whole. The new amendment would be able to extend the lifetime food stamp ban for those who have been convicted of being sex offenders and murderers. Although it doesn’t save any money, it shows that the government would not be willing to ‘forgive’ people of their crimes, even if they had supposedly paid their dues by going to jail or changing their behavior.
Researchers at Yale University have determined that making drug offenders ineligible for food stamps will put them at a larger risk of participating in sexual risk behaviors in order to obtain food. It has been said that many former drug offenders who were living in states where they were ineligible for food stamps were turning to various behaviors, such as prostitution, in order to obtain food. In turn, these choices are putting them at risk for HIV and other related sexually transmitted diseases.
The bill could also have other effects that may cause issues. In example, the amendment is suggested to mean lower food stamp benefits for children and family members of those who have been convicted of crimes. There are some people who feel this is unfair because it is essentially like punishing the family members or the children for the crimes and choices of the individual who has been convicted of the crime, even though it was not their fault or their own choice. It’s unknown whether or not the amendment will even be able to become law if the bill is passed, though it has many supporters already.
Those who have been the victims of violent crimes feel that the bill is a good approach to handling the issue of certain types of crimes. Some people feel that these types of changes may help to provide a deterrent for those who are considering committing a crime, especially in neighborhoods where there may be more low income families and those who are living on the poverty level. There are currently more studies being performed to determine whether or not there is a correlation between food stamp bans and criminal activity, though there have not been any new updates regarding the results.