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House Bill 828 (HB828) was proposed in 2016 to remove the ban on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for individuals with felony-related drug convictions who are otherwise eligible to receive benefits. The TANF program is designed to help low income families achieve self-sufficiency. States receive block grants to design and operate programs that accomplish one of the purposes of the TANF program: 1) Provide assistance to needy families so children can be cared for in their own homes; 2) Reduce the dependency of parents by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage; 3) Prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies; 4) Encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families (Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Section 401). With nearly 700,000 people released from state and federal prison each year, access to TANF benefits is particularly critical for helping formerly incarcerated individuals transitioning back to their home communities. Significant disparities in convictions and incarceration coupled with variations in state population between Whites and Nonwhites translate into a disproportionate impact of the felony drug ban (The Sentencing Project, 2015). Virginia is one of 14 states with a full ban on TANF benefits for individuals with felony-related drug convictions. Adoption of HB828 proposes to eliminate this lifetime ban and provide an opportunity for low income families to meet their basic needs during the period in which they are in most need.
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VCU L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs Publications