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Welfare Reform and Women with Felony Drug Convictions

Research Results and Policy Recommendations

By Amy E. Hirsch

Federal welfare law provides that, unless a state affirmatively passes legislation to the contrary, anyone with a felony drug conviction after August 22, 1996, is permanently barred from receiving cash assistance and food stamps. Results of interviews with women convicted of felonies and with the staff of agencies dealing with criminal justice, drug treatment, and public health support the recommendation that women in recovery from addiction should be allowed access to subsistence benefits and that the ban on benefits should be eliminated.

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