Bill to let drug felons get food stamps passes W.Va. Senate

Pxhere/MGN

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — UPDATE (Feb. 12):

A bill to allow drug felons to receive food stamps has passed the West Virginia Senate.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill Tuesday. The House of Delegates has already passed the bill but now must concur on a Senate amendment that would exclude felons whose crimes involved death or injury.

The American Civil Liberties Union's West Virginia chapter says West Virginia is one of three states with a food stamp ban for drug felons.

ACLU West Virginia executive director Joseph Cohen says in a statement West Virginians who have served their time for drug-related crimes "should not be perpetually punished. We cannot expect anyone to successfully reintegrate into society and avoid recidivism when they're exiting the criminal justice system with both hands tied behind their back."

___________

Some lawmakers in West Virginia want to end the state's lifetime ban on food stamps for people convicted of drug-related felonies.

The Huntington Herald-Dispatch reports West Virginia is one of three states that ban people convicted of drug-related felonies from receiving help buying food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.

The lifetime ban is a federal law, but states can opt out of it. Every state except West Virginia, Mississippi and South Carolina have opted out of the ban. Republican state Delegate John Shott, who is also chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has sponsored House bill 2459 that would exempt West Virginia from that law.