June 14, 2018

Taking druggies off of food stamps increased likelihood they'd go back to prison

Intercept -An often overlooked provision in the 1996 welfare reform act barred felons with drug convictions from obtaining welfare — including participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) — unless states actively waived those restrictions.

Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, who was responsible for adding this provision to the bill, argued at the time that he was merely “asking a higher standard of behavior of people on welfare.”....

Twenty-two years later, a Ph.D student in the economics department at the University of Maryland has been able to test the actual effects of the ban. Cody Tuttle, whose paper was released earlier this spring, found that at least in Florida, the law had the opposite intended effect — increasing recidivism among drug traffickers, rather than reducing it.

Tuttle looked at a sample of around 1,000 Florida drug traffickers who committed offenses within 240 days of August 23, 1996 — the day the ban went into effect. His study focused on drug traffickers because in Florida, the ban was limited to that population. “What I find is that for those people that are banned from SNAP … they’re more likely to go back to prison,” Tuttle told The Intercept. In fact, his report shows that individuals who committed drug trafficking offenses after the SNAP cutoff date were “nine percentage points more likely” to return to prison.

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