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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Tag: Felons

State Voting Restrictions for Felons

Felony voting laws are confusing; activists would ditch them altogether, By Rebecca Beitsch, April 5, 2018, Stateline: “Her sentencing made headlines across the country this week: A woman, recently released from prison in Texas and still on felony probation, is set to head back to prison for another five years after she unknowingly broke the law by voting in the 2016 election. Texas law prohibits people such as Crystal Mason from voting until they are no longer under supervision by corrections officers. Mason told the court she had no idea she was prohibited from voting. At her polling station, officials let her cast a provisional ballot. The confusion over felons’ voting rights is not limited to Mason’s situation or to Texas. Across the country, state felon voting laws vary widely…”

State Voting Restrictions for Felons

Most states disenfranchise felons. Maine and Vermont allow inmates to vote from prison, By Jane C. Timm, February 26, 2018, NBC News: “Joseph Jackson was one of the millions of Americans inspired by Barack Obama’s 2008 White House bid. A black man in the nation’s whitest state, he coordinated voter registration drives and cast his first-ever ballot for the candidate who would become the nation’s first African-American president. And he did it all while incarcerated in a maximum-security prison, serving 19 years for manslaughter.  That’s because Jackson, 52, was convicted in Maine, one of just two states that allow felons to vote from behind bars…”

Ex-Felons and Housing

‘Invisible punishment’ hits ex-felons for life; DOJ, HUD fight blanket rental bias, By Joe Davidson, October 27, 2016, Washington Post: “There’s been a lot of bipartisan talk lately about criminal justice reform. But action is slow.  Too slow for Pedro Collazo, dangling in a web of collateral consequences.  He did 12 years in New York’s Sing Sing prison on manslaughter charges after a beef went bad at a bar where he was a bouncer. He was 22. He has been home nine months and has a good job that allows him to care for his 16-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter.  But “home” is an elusive concept for Collazo, who sleeps on a relative’s couch…”

State Restrictions on Public Assistance for Drug Felons

More states lift welfare restrictions for drug felons, By Teresa Wiltz, August 9, 2016, Stateline: “Twenty years after a federal law blocked people with felony drug convictions from receiving welfare or food stamps, more states are loosening those restrictions — or waiving them entirely.  In April, Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, signed a criminal justice reform bill that lifted the ban on food stamps for drug felons in Georgia. Alaska followed suit in July, although applicants must prove they are complying with parole and are in treatment for substance abuse. And in Delaware, a bill to lift cash assistance restrictions for drug felons passed out of committee in June. The legislative session ended before the bill could be put to a vote…”

SNAP Program – Georgia

Georgia may soon lift ban on food stamps for drug felons, By Ryan Phillips (AP), April 26, 2016, ABC News: “Georgia may soon lift a ban on food stamps for convicted drug offenders after they are released, in an effort to keep them from returning to prison. Gov. Nathan Deal plans to sign legislation Wednesday making the state opt out of a federal lifetime ban on food stamps for those convicted of a drug-related felony. While the federal program calls for stiff restrictions on felons, states are allowed to opt out of the ban. The post-release assistance is supposed help prevent recidivism. The initiative under Deal’s legislative agenda is part of a more comprehensive bill aimed at reforming the state’s criminal justice system…”

State Restrictions on Public Assistance for Drug Felons

States rethink restrictions on food stamps, welfare for drug felons, By Rebecca Beitsch, July 30, 2015, Stateline: “Johnny Waller Jr.’s 1998 felony drug conviction has haunted him since the day he left a Nebraska prison in 2001. Waller, now 38, applied for 175 jobs without getting one. He had trouble getting a federal loan for college because of his drug conviction, so he started his own janitorial business, in Kansas City, Missouri. And when his toddler son, Jordyn, was diagnosed with stomach cancer and needed full-time care, Waller’s record disqualified him from receiving food stamps. ‘I really needed assistance there,’ Waller said of the time in 2007 he had to give up his job to care for Jordyn. But he couldn’t get it, he said, because of a conviction ‘when I was 18 years old that didn’t have anything to do with my son…'”

State Voting Restrictions for Felons

States rethink laws denying the vote to felons, By Rebecca Beitsch, July 16, 2015, Stateline: “When Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a Maryland bill that expanded voting rights, he angered a group of people who were never able to vote for him in the first place: felons still serving prison time, probation or parole. Maryland — like every state but Maine and Vermont — restricts the voting rights of felons. Some states bar felony inmates from voting, others extend the prohibition to offenders who are on parole or probation. Several states withhold voting rights from people who have been out of the criminal justice system for years.  More states are considering restoring the right to vote to felons, with supporters saying that once their debt to society is paid they should be allowed to exercise a fundamental right. This year, 18 states considered legislation to ease voting restrictions on felons; Wyoming was the only state to pass such a bill. That’s up from 13 states that considered bills last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures…”