"The debt limit agreement reached over the weekend included broadening food stamps access for some groups, while restricting access for others. The debate over which groups deserve food security is not new, but these debates often fail to recognize that broadening access to food stamps not only benefits program participants, it's also good for our communities and our collective public safety. Research often found that places with higher food stamps participation (and welfare participation, generally) have lower crime rates. But, these studies, which examine trends across places, usually cannot rule out other factors (like labor markets, demographic changes, population health) that may contribute to higher welfare participation and lower crime rates. As a researcher who studies the criminal legal system, we conducted a recent study that focused on one aspect of food stamps policy—the lifetime ban on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits for people convicted of drug-related felonies—to identify how limiting access to SNAP through this policy influenced arrest rates. The lifetime ban on SNAP (as well as TANF, or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits has been in place since the welfare overhaul of 1996, but states can modify or repeal the ban. To date, 21 states still have the ban in place with full or modified conditions, all of which create barriers to access."

For the full story, please visit https://www.newsweek.com/restricting-food-stamps-soft-crime-opinion-1803694

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