How long should former drug felons who have completed their prison term continue to pay for their crime? Alabama is one of 10 states that still impose a lifetime ban on receipt of SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) benefits for anyone who has ever had a felony drug conviction, and one of 12 states with a similar ban on receipt of TANF (formerly known as welfare) benefits. The bans include no exceptions for people who have completed their sentences, complied with their probation terms, paid all their fines and penalties, and overcome their addictions.
This issue brief examines how many Alabamians may be affected by this lifetime ban and the potential financial and social effects of keeping it in place.
More than 900,000 Alabamians -- nearly one in five -- will see their food assistance benefits cut beginning Nov. 1, 2013, when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) expires. More than 47 million Americans, including 22 million children, will face the reductions. For a family of three in Alabama, the cuts mean a reduction of $29 each month. Families' benefits this month now will average less than $1.40 per person per meal.
"SNAP has been a powerful tool to keep families out of poverty during the long recession and recovery, and for most of the 910,000 Alabamians still on SNAP, it doesn't feel like the recession has ended," ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said. "To adjust for this week's cuts, many struggling families in Alabama will literally have to tighten their belts."
When people fall into debt, it shouldn't ruin their lives. Nearly every state endorses this simple idea by placing some limits on how much creditors can collect from people struggling to pay what they owe. But in Alabama, weak and outdated limits make it much harder for many debtors to rebuild their lives after a judgment.
Alabama's exemptions from debt collection are far lower than those in many nearby states. This issue brief examines how an update to the state's exemptions could give people who are struggling with debt a better chance to keep working and continue meeting their family's basic needs.
The share of Alabamians without health insurance decreased in 2012, even as the state continued to suffer from one of the nation's highest poverty rates, U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday show. The data suggest Medicaid and other public insurance coverage played a significant role in holding Alabama's uninsured rate steady, ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said, as did provisions of the Affordable Care Act that extend coverage to young adults.
"The Affordable Care Act has provided vital access to quality medical care for Alabama's young adults who are just starting out in life," Forrister said. "The Census data underscore just how much Alabama could strengthen our health care protections by fully implementing the act, including the Medicaid expansion that would start next year."
Alabama's cuts to state K-12 education funding since the start of the Great Recession have been the nation's second worst, according to a new study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The cuts have slowed Alabama's economic recovery and could hurt the state's future economic growth, ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said.
"Education opens the doors of opportunity for hundreds of thousands of low-income Alabamians," Forrister said. "We can't strengthen our state's economy by eroding our foundation for economic growth."
Nearly one in five Alabamians -- 910,000 people -- will face cuts to food assistance this fall when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) expires, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The cuts will drain $98 million from Alabama's economy next year and deal a major blow to low-income Alabamians still trying to overcome the lingering effects of the Great Recession.
"SNAP benefits are a powerful tool to ease poverty," ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said. "In tough times, we ought to look for more ways to help low-income families, instead of putting their food assistance on the chopping block."