Should Drug Offenders Get Food Stamps?

The Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission, through the Second Chance Program, has created a metro wide strategy to respond to prisoner reentry, reducing recidivism and increasing public safety, through research, advocacy and funding programs. They have developed the Kansas City Metropolitan Reentry Coalition which responds to issues that impact people returning to community from incarceration. Senate Bill 34 addresses an important reentry issue.

Senate Bill 34, sponsored by Senator Yvonne Wilson of Kansas City, was designed to lift the Food Stamp ban for people with felony drug convictions in Missouri. In 1996, under the Clinton Administration, states were allowed to “opt out” of providing Food Stamps to people who had any drug related felony. Missouri adopted a lifetime ban, whereby no one convicted of a drug related felony can ever get Food Stamps in this state. Kansas adopted this also but smartly reversed their ban in 2005. Missouri is one of 13 states continuing to deny Food Stamps to otherwise eligible people with drug related felonies.

Should drug offenders get Food Stamps? The reality is that it more broadly impacts people than one could imagine. Consider, for example, the woman who has completed probation, regained her sobriety and has been in recovery while working, paying taxes and voting. She has been raising her family successfully for years and now gets laid off under the current economy. She can not get Food Stamps (her children can) and will suffer consequences for a mistake in her distant past. The Bill was unanimously voted out of committee but needs your support to pass!

If you would like to learn more about Senate Bill 34, or the Kansas City Metropolitan Reentry Coalition, contact Lora McDonald at (816)285-8668 or .

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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at


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