Food Stamps as a gateway to social benifits

Over the last couple of months, it has come to my attention that food stamps are not only about feeding the hungry but have also become a means test to other social programs. Case in point is college scholarships. There have been a couple of ex-offenders going to school full time and working part time to meet expenses associated to Parole and Probation that go as high as $400 or $500 a month. Everyone gets the same emergency food stamps package, if you will, on getting out of prison. However, some drug convictions carry a mandatory reduction/termination in food stamps benefits.
On the surface this sounds good and makes for some truly great 20 second sound bits for TV or one liners on a political resume at election time. However, for the ex-offender that is truly focused on both recovery from addictions and self-improvement through education be it GED or technical training associated with a college program, it is a killer.
In the state of Florida the average prison sentence is five years and it costs $144,000 (2010 dollars) to incarcerate a women for five years. They come to prison with an average education equivalent to the sixth grade. Every study that I have seen draws a direct correlation to education and recidivism.
Essentially, the reduction in need based grants and scholarships using food stamps as a gateway bars a great number of those that would otherwise become become better educated and socially responsible citizens in the process. The price of this bar contributes not only to recidivism but a host of social costs associated with their children not to mention a .7 of a percentage of them going to prison themselves.

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