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W.Va. lifts ban on SNAP benefits for those with felony drug convictions

By Taylor Stuck, The Herald Dispatch

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —After completing her prison sentence for operating a clandestine methamphetamine lab, Tracy Jividen began to restart her life. She went to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to sign up for food assistance, which she had been on prior to her felony drug conviction.

“The form said, ‘Do you have a drug charge,’ and I checked the box honestly without thinking about the effect it would have on me,” Jividen, 38, of Charleston, said.

A federal law enacted during the height of the “War on Drugs” prohibits those with felony drug convictions from receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits. This meant while Jividen was rebuilding her life and struggling to make ends meet, she had to scrimp off the food she bought using the SNAP benefits her children received or she went hungry. That hunger, while not the only reason, was a big part of why Jividen found herself back in prison without custody of her children, she said.

But thanks to a bill passed this year by the West Virginia Legislature exempting the state from the federal law, people like Jividen – who have served their time for nonviolent crimes – can now receive SNAP benefits. …

Read more: https://wvpress.wpengine.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=68989&action=edit

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