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Bill To Lift Ban On Drug Offenders Receiving SNAP Moves To Senate

Sen. Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores) answers questions from the Senate Family and Children Services Committee about his bill, SB 11.

The Senate Committee on Family and Children Services approved a bill Thursday to lift a lifetime ban on federally-funded food assistance for certain drug offenders. Indiana is one of four states still blocking that federal assistance.

Senate Bill 11 would open SNAP benefits to drug offenders, as long as they complete their parole and probation requirements as specified by the court.

The ban includes any conviction of Schedule 1 drug offense, for example: cocaine, marijuana, opioids, and LSD.

RecycleForce President Gregg Keesling says his company doubles as one of the largest prison re-entry programs in the state and he supports this bill.

“Food security would increase public safety. I’ve been doing this for 1,600 people, and there’s no doubt in my mind,” Keesling says.

Shepherd Community Center’s Allen Southerland also supports the bill. The center is based in Indianapolis, and works in one of the highest crime areas in the city.

He says mental health is a component of drug abuse.

“One factor that I don’t think has been mentioned yet – the city gave us the stats – our neighborhood has 400 percent higher incidents of residents with mental illness,” Southerland says.

No one offered testimony against the SB 11. The committee passed the bill unanimously, it now moves to the Senate floor.

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