Posts Tagged ‘food stamps’

What Rational Purpose?

January 31, 2014

I come here today to ask you a question: What possible rational public benefit can be derived from requiring that an 8-year-old child be deprived of food, shelter or an education? For that matter, what benefit can be derived from doing that to any person?

You may say that we do not do that in this country. But we do. I have been informed that “this is part of the price that is paid for committing” certain crimes.

But what crime can be so heinous that it requires that someone either starve to death or commit another crime, such as prostitution or theft or illegal drug sales, in order to survive? If someone has committed such a crime, won’t they be locked up in prison for the remainder of their lives?

Let me tell you about some crimes in this category.

Public urination. This includes urination in the woods. In at least 13 states, this will get you placed on the sex offender registry.

Swatting a child on the buttocks while he/she is fully clothed.

The purchase of a certain coffee table book in a legitimate (not adult) bookstore, removing it from the country and then bringing it back. This is now considered transporting child pornography into the United States.

Engaging an adult prostitute.

Playing doctor.

Taking a picture of yourself in a suggestive pose, if you are under 18. Or receiving said picture, even if you did not want it.

Skinny-dipping in your own pool, in a fenced-in back yard in the middle of the night.

Grabbing a child by the arm to keep said child from darting out into the street in front of a moving vehicle. This is called restraint of a child.

Locking a 17-year-old in her own bedroom by herself for 15 minutes while you cool down from an argument with her. Again, this is called restraint of a child.

For these crimes, and many more, you can be denied SNAP benefits (food stamps), public housing, or admittance to a shelter during freezing weather, tornadoes, hurricanes or other disasters.
What rational public benefit does this serve?

It does not rehabilitate the criminal. It does not reintegrate the criminal into the community. It does not encourage productive things.

This is continuing retribution, long after the debt has been paid. This encourages further crime. This swells the ranks of the imprisoned by forcing criminal enterprise. This tears families apart, for what mother with a child of 8, 10, 16 would refuse the child food just because he can’t be considered for food stamps? What father would stay with his family if it became necessary to apply for food stamps, knowing that his presence will reduce the amount of food stamps they will get?

What rational purpose does this serve?

I say, none.

Further punishment

July 13, 2013

It’s a statistic I have used before: We have 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s imprisoned.
We apparently are willing to pay the price to make sure that they go back to prison. The cost is already staggering. California has been ordered to cut the overpopulation of its prisons to ONLY 135% of capacity. Other states are not far behind. Although figures vary from state to state, the minimum figure for incarcerating a person for one year that I have found is $25,000, and this is under conditions that Human Rights Watch have found to be inhumane.
Now let’s examine why the government apparently wants to have the people who have committed crimes return to prison.
It is generally accepted that re-integration into the community is necessary to minimize general recidivism. If a person has food, shelter and a support system, they are far more likely to re-integrate successfully and far less likely to commit other crimes. Do we want less crime? Of course we do! Then why do we treat former felons in such a way as to assure that the maximum number of them turn to crime in order to survive?
In the 2007 ban on drug felons receiving food stamps, the states were allowed to opt out of the ban. Some did, some did not. So what were the results of this?
The results were as one might expect. In those states where the food stamp ban was instituted, general recidivism increased. That’s right, because they could not get food stamps, drug felons resorted to illegal methods to get food. In states where the food stamp ban was not instituted, general recidivism of drug felons decreased.
Now we are discussing doing the same thing again, but this time with a more dangerous set of criminals. We are discussing doing this without allowing the states to opt out of the ban. Do we really want to see an increase in murder, rape, illegal drug use, robbery and child molestation? Do we want to see the members of the families of these former felons suffer?
I don’t think it’s a good use of our tax dollars to discourage re-integration of former offenders by removing food stamps for those who need them, not when the likely consequences are so devastating. This ban increases crime, which may affect any of us. We may then look at increased court costs. And we will certainly still be feeding the recidivist, but at a much higher cost in prison.
Is this a wise ban? No.
Write to your congressional delegation. Let them know that they are being “penny wise and pound foolish.” In other words, let them know you don’t want more crime at the cost of a few dollars in food stamps.

To contact your Senator, go to http://www.senate.gov and to contact your Representative go to http://www.house.gov . Thank you for those who take a few minutes to contact their congressional delegation. Please feel free to share this blog.


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