WOMEN IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
The number of women in prison, a third of whom are incarcerated for drug offenses, is increasing at nearly double the rate for men. These women often have significant histories of physical and sexual abuse, high rates of HIV infection, and substance abuse. Large-scale women's imprisonment has resulted in an increasing number of children who suffer from their mother's incarceration and the loss of family ties.
July 23, 2014 (The Sentencing Project)
New Publication: Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime
A new report by The Sentencing Project examines the potential for substantial prison population reductions. Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime: A Tale of Three States profiles the experiences of three states – New York, New Jersey, and California – that have reduced their prison populations by about 25% while seeing their crime rates generally decline at a faster pace than the national average.
June 23, 2014 (The Sentencing Project)
Missouri Expands Eligibility for Food Stamps to Persons with Felony Drug Convictions
Missouri Governor Jay Neal has signed Senate Bill 680, which modifies the federal lifetime ban on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), for persons with felony drug convictions. Although the new law is a step in the right direction, it imposes a one-year waiting period after a conviction or release from custody.
May 19, 2014
The Sentencing Project Releases its 2013 Annual Report
The Sentencing Project is pleased to announce the release of its 2013 Annual report which provides a comprehensive overview of activities over the past year.
April 14, 2014 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Lawmakers should lift Missouri's lifetime ban on food stamps for ex-offenders
An editorial calls Missouri’s continuation of the lifetime ban on food stamps for people with records of drug felonies “a meat-ax approach to a problem that would be better solved with a scalpel.
“A provision that authorizes the ban was part of the federal welfare reform law approved in 1996. In the frenzy at the time over winning the misbegotten “war on drugs,” the idea got only two minutes of debate after it was introduced on the U.S. Senate floor. One minute for Republicans and one for Democrats. It then was adopted by a unanimous voice vote.
“Because there was so little debate, the motivation behind the idea is unclear. It surely didn’t receive much thought. But coming down heavy on drug-sellers and users was seen as a Good Thing. As if someone preparing to commit a drug crime was going to stop and think, ‘Wait ... if I commit this crime, and get caught, I might lose eligibility for food stamps.’
“Federal and state felony drug ex-offenders were the only group barred from food assistance by the reform laws. There was and is no ban for child molesters, murderers, rapists or other felons who have served their time. Worth noting is that women are disproportionately affected by the ban since they are about twice as likely as men to receive food stamps.
April 11, 2014 (Colorlines.com)
For Missouri Moms, A Past Drug Conviction Means No Food Aid, Ever
Missouri is one of 10 states that still ban people with felony drug convictions from ever receiving food stamps. Overall, according to a report by The Sentencing Project, an estimated 180,000 women and their children, primarily families of color, are disproportionately affected by this little-known holdover from Clinton-era welfare reform. Now for the first time Missouri’s legislature is looking at loosening if not lifting the lifetime ban. Even with bipartisan support however, it’s unclear whether the bill will make it through.
The majority of the other states still riding hard for this War on Drugs-era punishment are located in the South.