Section 115 - Denial of Assistance and Benefits for Certain Drug-related Convictions
Q. What information will States be required to obtain to implement the drug conviction provision? Will States be required to do some kind of computer matching or will this only apply if the applicant household identifies one of the members as a drug felon?
A. States will be required to act on available information. Unless a State law has been passed to allow the State to opt out of this provision, a State shall require each individual applying for assistance to attest in the application process if the individual or any member of the household has been convicted of a crime.
Q. If an individual receives a 2 year disqualification for a drug conviction under Section 6(b)(1)(B)(ii)(II) of the Food Stamp Act, serves the full term, and comes back to the FSP, will the provisions of Section 115, Denial of assistance and benefits for certain drug-related convictions apply?
A. The food stamp violation may not be a felony, but if it is, Section 115 applies and the person is permanently disqualified unless the State has passed a law opting out of this provision.
Q. This section allows States to opt out of the provision if the State enacts a law to exempt any or all individuals from this provision. Can States delay implementation of the drug conviction provision if their legislature is not in session?
The law requires implementation by 7/1/97 unless the State enacts a law before then.
Q. If a State wants to implement this provision, does this section apply to both applicants and recipients?
A. Unless States opt out of this provision (which they can only do by legislation), States must implement this provision for applicants and recipients July 1, 1997. However, only convictions occurring after August 22, 1996, can make an applicant or recipient ineligible under this provision.
Q. For how long is an individual ineligible?
A. An individual is permanently ineligible unless the State passes a law limiting the disqualification period (or unless the State passes a law "opting out" of the provision entirely).
Q. Can a person cure himself or herself?
A. There is no cure provision other than the State option to limit the length of the disqualification by law.
Q. Are there any good cause or hardship exemptions such as a parent just out of prison trying to resume parental duties for children?
A. The State may pass a law opting out of the provision or limiting the period for which the disqualification applies, but there is no other cure or exemption.
Q. How are these ineligible people to be tracked?
A. Currently, these ineligible individuals are not included in the DRS system. We are reviewing the costs and feasibility of modifying the system to include these individuals. In the meantime, States should develop their own procedures for identifying such people. However, under current law, individuals disqualified by a Federal, State, or local court for trading food stamps for a controlled substance will continue to be included in DRS.
Q. Can the signed statement that no one in the household has a drug conviction be on the application?
A. The statement may, but need not, be on the application.
Q. Do all members have to sign the statement that no one in the household has a drug conviction?
A. States may allow one person to attest for all members.
Q. How should States handle drug convictions involving deferred adjudication where the conviction is postponed until the end of the probationary period and where the conviction is erased due to the probation being served?
A. The provision applies to convictions, not pending charges. Therefore, if adjudication has been deferred, there is no conviction. We may address the question of cases where convictions are "erased" or purged in the regulations.
Q. How should States handle drug convictions for minors where the record is cleared when they reach 18 or 21?
A. We will either address this in regulations or allow State flexibility in this area.