See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Lifting SNAP drug felony ban on the table in Michigan

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2020 at 9:27 AM

click to enlarge JONATHAN WEISS / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

Some Michiganders convicted of drug offenses are facing lifelong punishments under the law that are not directly related to their crime.

The state permanently bans those with felony convictions from two or more separate drug-related crimes from food assistance available under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.



State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, introduced SB 1006 to repeal the ban. He contended it's a matter of fairness, as no other crime triggers such a denial.

"Dangling food over a person's head and taking it away potentially from their family, their children, or themselves as they're trying to reform themselves and get out of a dangerous cycle seems to me to be unusually cruel and unnecessary," said Ananich.

Data show full eligibility for SNAP benefits reduces the probability that someone with a drug conviction will return to prison within a year by 13%. 26 states and D.C. have waived the ban, which was created under federal welfare reform in 1996.

Julie Cassidy, senior policy analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy, noted the ban has distinct impacts on people with disabilities, who already are disproportionately affected by hunger and the criminal-justice system.

She said access to SNAP and other public assistance supports a successful return to the community.

"They may have gotten involved in the drug trade out of economic desperation or maybe simply struggling with an addiction," said Cassidy. "We view this as a really outdated and unfair and unjust policy. It's not smart on crime; it's just tough on crime."

The average SNAP benefit in Michigan is $1.32 per person per meal, which Ananich said he believes is a modest investment to get people on the path to recovery.

"A few folks feel like you're rewarding folks that made a mistake related to drugs, and I understand that argument," said Ananich. "But if the point is rehabilitation, than I think it seems like something we should do. If your philosophy is just punish and no chance for improving, then you probably don't like the bill."

The bill passed out of the Senate Families, Seniors and Veterans committee this week.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

Tags: , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 2, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2020 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation