robert-greenstein

An amendment to the Senate farm bill banning convicted murderers, rapists, and pedophiles from receiving food stamps discriminates against African Americans, according to a critic of the effort.

Last week the Senate agreed to an amendment introduced by Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter that would prohibit convicted murderers and rapists from obtaining benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps.

Currently, there is a ban on SNAP benefits for convicted drug felons, a ban which some states have opted out of or modified, according to Vitter’s office, which adds that the amendment would extend that ban to other convicts.

According Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) president Robert Greenstein, the amendment “would increase hardship and will likely have strongly racially discriminatory effects.”

In a blog post, picked up by Mother Jones, Salon, and other left-leaning publications, Greenstein explained that due to incarceration rates the ban would have more impact on African Americans.

“Given incarceration patterns in the United States, the amendment would have a skewed racial impact.  Poor elderly African Americans convicted of a single crime decades ago by segregated Southern juries would be among those hit,” he explained at CBPP’s blog.

He added that the amendment “violates the basic norms of criminal justice.”