Ex-drug offenders have to overcome several barriers to reentry — scarcity of job opportunities; court and parole fines; and lack of training to qualify for jobs — after being released.
This session the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 200, which deals with several provisions of health and human services in this state. Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) was able to place a critical amendment on this bill that will now allow certain ex-drug offenders in Texas to be eligible to receive SNAP benefits.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal program administered by each state that provides assistance to qualifying recipients so they can buy food while participating in structured job search and training programs.
The amendment authored by Rep. Thompson will become effective September 1. It is designed to decrease the recidivism rate and ensure the existence of a support system to complement the seamless reintegration of recently released men and women into society.
September 1 from 9 – 10 a.m. during a press conference at the Northeast Multi-Purpose Center, 9720 Spaulding Street, Houston, TX, 77016, Rep. Thompson will address questions about the new legislation. There will be a representative from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission available on-site to speak with individuals about the current implementation process being established and answer questions. There will also be time for testimonies from ex-offenders.
Rep. Thompson notes that in order to reform offenders, Texas needs to reform how they prepare them for reentry.
“When you consider the barriers to reentry, you know ex-drug offenders will need assistance while they fulfill parole, training and work searches requirements to start a new life for them and their families,” said Rep. Thompson. “I’m grateful for the bi-partisan support that made it possible to give this community a second chance.”
This change makes Texas the 44th state to opt out of a Clinton-era ban that prevented people convicted of drug felonies from getting the aid. Under the new policy, drug offenders will be able to obtain food stamps as long as they comply with the conditions of their parole and do not commit a second offense while receiving assistance. However, they still will be ineligible for cash help through welfare.
About Rep. Senfronia Thompson’s, District 141
Rep. Thompson is the author of Texas’ first-ever alimony law, the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act that bans racial profiling, the state’s current minimum wage law, laws creating drug courts, the Contraceptive Parity law, the Sexual Assault Program Fund, the Model School Records Flagging Act, and scores of other reforms benefiting women, children, families and the elderly. Her office is constantly engaged in bi-partisan efforts to decrease the recidivism rate and ensure the existence of a support system to help recently released men and women smoothly reintegrate into society. For more information about Rep Thompson, visit http://senfroniathompson.com