vanpelt 041621SPRINGFIELD – Any person who has been convicted for a drug-related offense under state or federal law is currently prohibited from being eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) led an initiative to reverse that, which was signed by the governor Friday.

“Even after people serve their time, they still struggle when reentering society, and have many rights continuously taken from them,” Van Pelt. “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 the 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. It 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. “Individuals who have been incarcerated for drug-related offenses and reentering society often need the most assistance with food and housing.”

House Bill 88 becomes effective in three months.