Bill would relax food stamp restrictions for some felons - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Bill would relax food stamp restrictions for some convicted felons

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HB85 would allow felons to apply for food stamps. HB85 would allow felons to apply for food stamps.
MONTGOMERY, AL (WAFF) -

Rep. Christopher John England (D- Tuscaloosa) is sponsoring a bill in the Alabama legislature that would allow felons convicted of drug crimes to receive food stamps under certain circumstances.

HB85 would change Alabama's stance on a federal law that restricts felons convicted of drug crimes from being eligible for benefits under the federal temporary assistance for needy families program or under the federal food stamp program.

The bill would allow them to become eligible for the programs upon completion of their sentence. They would be eligible even while on probation or going through mandatory drug or alcohol treatment programs.

Critics of HB85 said the law should be kept as it is because it is a deterrent for people not to become involved in illegal drug activity. Supporters said the assistance helps felons get back on their feet, and the federal restrictions are really just hurting their children.

According to the Legal Action Center, Alabama is one of only 10 states that uphold the federal law in its entirety. The LAC web site said 16 states and Washington, D.C. do not uphold it at all and all others have modified versions of the law. Eight states, including Tennessee, allow a similar option to HB85.

HB85 is awaiting action in the House Judiciary Committee.

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