Here is an issue of great importance to people with criminal records that you might have missed, because on its face, it isn’t focused on that population.
At both the federal and state levels of government, serious discussion is taking place about changing the work requirements for SNAP benefits (food stamps). The proposals under discussion would limit single, able-bodied adults to obtaining SNAP for only 3 out of 36 months unless they work 20 hours per week, even in high unemployment areas. This proposal would be devastating to people with criminal records.
People with criminal records, whether recently reentering the community from incarceration or with old criminal cases, face high unemployment rates that would make many of them unable to satisfy the 20 hour work requirement, especially in areas of high unemployment. And if they are not working, chances are that they really desperately need their SNAP benefits, especially if they are trying to get back on their feet after incarceration with very few resources. A blog post by Community Legal Services provides more information about this issue.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking comments on possible rule changes until Monday, April 9th. A sample letter, to which you can modify, can be found here. For your convenience, you can submit your comments to the USDA here. You can also find all of these resources by going to CLS’s blog post. Please speak out to avoid another setback for people with criminal records.