pvp 051921SPRINGFIELD – Any person who has been convicted for a drug-related offense under state or federal law is prohibited from being eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, but State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is leading an initiative to reverse that.

“Even after people serve their time, they still struggle when reentering society, and have many rights continuously taken from them,” Van Pelt said. “They are released and everything around them has changed, except their ability to fend for themselves has become harder due to their status.”

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, passed at the federal level, prohibits anyone convicted of a drug-related felony from receiving federally-funded cash assistance through TANF or SNAP. However, states have the option to opt-out of this lifetime ban from TANF and SNAP, and 25 states have already chosen to do so.

TANF provides temporary financial assistance for pregnant women and families with one or more dependent children. TANF provides financial assistance to help pay for food, shelter, utilities and expenses other than medical.

“People who are reentering society need help getting back on their feet,” Van Pelt said. “In fact, those who may have been incarcerated for drug-related offenses and reentering society may need the most assistance with food and housing.”

House Bill 88 passed the Health Committee Tuesday and awaits to be heard on the Senate floor.