In previous posts titled “Visions” and “The New Jim Crow”, I spoke a little about some of the things that inspired me into action. I thought that it was time to follow that up with an update!
For those of you just tuning in let me bring you up to speed.
In 1996, welfare reform was a great political platform. A bill passed through the Senate permanently banning anyone with a felony drug conviction from ever receiving benefits from the food stamp program. While it is easy to see the good intentions behind this law, it is an extremely flawed policy. In fact, 39 out of 50 states have opted out of it but Texas has not. Texas has the 2nd highest rate of incarceration in the world and a large percentage of those who have records are in some way drug related.
People have the capacity for change. Why discriminate ONLY against people who were CAUGHT with drugs? Those that have criminal histories already face many obstacles to employment, housing, and taking away access to a need so basic is inhumane!
I in no way want to advocate for abuse of the welfare system. In times of need, however, it can be essential to have a safety net. As someone with a felony drug conviction on my record, I get irate to think that I face another sort of double jeopardy in this area. I face obstacles to employment and in many other areas of my life for the role that I played in my past. I should not be discriminated against when a person convicted of any other type of crime is allowed access to these benefits. My tax dollars help fund this program and yet if I need assistance I am denied. I should mention that in Texas, we can get food stamps strictly for the children and I am thankful for that. What about the people who don’t have children? Those who have no support system in place to help in times of need and don’t have an child to anchor them to the community are at a higher risk of re-offending.
Having the opportunity to write for Conspire inspired me and compelled to DO something. This might seem like an odd cause with all the noteworthy things out there that I could devote my time to. As I have spent time working on it, I can see this is the perfect issue for me to begin with. It is my opportunity to give a platform to a group who needs one. While I have been working on this I have found that a lot of people who have criminal histories don’t know that they get their voting rights back when they are finished with their sentence. I hope to get the word out, not only about changing this law. I hope to inspire others like me to register to vote and promote change for the people who come behind us.
I hope to gather up signatures from people all over the state and nation so that in a few months when I go testify to the many reasons why this should be changed, I can go with support of constituents that will grab the attention of our representatives. I realize that not everyone will agree with me on this issue, but you can’t help but love my passion!