Congress’s Covid-19 Stimulus Package Provides No Relief to Marginalized Communities

February 11, 2021

NEW YORK — As Democrats in Congress continue to refine the $1.9 trillion stimulus package to provide more Covid-19 relief to Americans, JustLeadershipUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins issued the following statement:

“It is unconscionable that, as House Democrats continue to refine this relief package, that they have not yet taken the opportunity to repeal one of the most egregious collateral consequences of the failed war on drugs: The cruel lifetime federal ban on public assistance, including food stamps, for people convicted of drug felonies.

“The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program both provide much-needed assistance, equal opportunity and stability for millions of marginalized people and communities, and allow them to feed and provide for their families. However, for formerly incarcerated people, the stigma of a criminal conviction continues to deny them these same rights, and shuts them out of the most basic means of survival as they attempt to get back on their feet, regain custody of their children, secure safe and affordable housing and find employment.

“And now, as Covid-19 continues to claim more predominantly Black and brown lives, the ban further demonizes these communities, reducing benefits for children and impacting women and people of color, who have been disproportionately targeted and incarcerated for drug law violations.

“Although many states opted out of the ban thanks to the advocacy and activism of the formerly incarcerated people, as long as this inhumane ban remains it only serves to highlight our embarrassing legacy of systemic injustice and threatens the wellbeing of millions of directly impacted people who have already served their sentences. We therefore urge House Democrats to remove the language excluding people convicted of felony drug convictions and bring an end to this leftover from the failed war on drugs, NOW!”

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