Senator Van Pelt


SPRINGFIELD – 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 restriction, which passed the Senate Thursday.

“Even after people serve their time, they still struggle when reentering society, as many of their rights have been taken from them,” Van Pelt. “They are released and ready to make a change—but laws like the restriction on TANF limit their ability to make a better life for themselves.”

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 can 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 other non-medical expenses.

“People who are reentering society need help getting back on their feet,” Van Pelt said. “In fact, those who have been incarcerated may need the most assistance with food and housing to find a career and begin contributing to our communities again.”

House Bill 88 has now passed both chambers.