Ex-Drug Offenders Qualify for State Benefits

ex-drug-offendersSadly, incarceration has long gone hand and hand with addiction – a byproduct of America’s war on drugs. Until recently, people arrested and convicted for nonviolent drug offenses were not given the option of treatment and were required to serve lengthy sentences. Upon release, many of ex-offenders found limited options with regard to state assistance, making it difficult for such individuals to get by. In many states, ex-drug offenders are ineligible for welfare and food stamps.

The Times Are A-Changin

Fortunately, as draconian drug laws fade and lawmakers see the value of treatment over incarceration; many states have begun adopting more enlightened views with regards to addiction. A number of states are now allowing ex-drug offenders to qualify for state benefits (i.e. food stamps), The Wall Street Journal reports. Lifting the two-decade-old ban on benefits for people convicted of drug crimes is a huge step in the right direction.

Last year, both California and Missouri lifted their bans and Alabama and Texas followed this year. In August, a Congressional Research Service report found that in 12 states ex-offenders are eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the federal welfare program, according to the article. Almost 24 states allow ex-offenders to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Starving Ex-Offenders

Rules barring former drug offenders from participating in state assistance programs stems from a law passed in 1996, the article reports. In 2013, a study found that more than 90 percent of recently released ex-drug offenders lacked reliable access to food, and more than a third said thatx in the last month they had gone and entire day without food.

“Should they be denied those benefits when that could help them get back on their feet again and be a productive member of society?” asked Alabama state Sen. Cam Ward, a Republican representing Montgomery who sponsored the legislation.

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If you are or your loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

Surrender Your Drugs and Go To Treatment

surrender-drugsThe “war on drugs” has been quite effective with regard to getting addicts off the streets, but it has done little to address the problem of addiction – a disease which plagues millions of Americans. People who are arrested and imprisoned, simply for the crime of being an addict, often find themselves in a hamster wheel.

The rates of jail recidivism among drug addicts who are released is extremely high. Research tells us that jail does little when it comes to teaching people how to live a life free from drugs – something treatment does quite well.

Treatment Over Jail

In many states there exist drug courts, which give those charged with drug crimes the option of probation and addiction treatment counseling as opposed to being locked up. Such programs have been found to save taxpayers money, and help rather than harm a number of people who are already suffering. However, there are many who feel that treatment is more successful when it is not mandatory or forced.

In many states across the country, prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction have become the largest social welfare issue. The death toll related to the use of opioids is staggering and some cities have begun thinking outside the box.

Surrender Your Drugs and Go To Treatment

In the little New England city of Gloucester, Massachusetts, the local police chief launched a novel program which provides substance use disorder treatment for people who turn in their illegal drugs to the police, WBUR reports. Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello said that 17 people have accepted the offer thus far.

While the number of people who have accepted treatment may seem small, Campanello points out that 17 people is more than three times the number of people who have died of drug overdoses in a town of 29,000, Needham, MA, this year alone. What’s more, the 17 who surrendered were using opioid drugs, such as heroin, morphine and oxycodone – drugs which all carry the potential for overdose.

“We need to get people into treatment,” Campanello said. “If they fail, we need to get them into treatment again. Just keep trying. Arresting them or coercing them into treatment just doesn’t work.”

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If you are struggling with prescription opioids or heroin abuse, please do not hesitate to contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help show you how to live a life free of opioid addiction.

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