Deal Signs Law Lifting Ban On Food Stamps For Drug Offenders

Gov. Nathan Deal signs a criminal justice reform bill.
Gov. Nathan Deal signs a criminal justice reform bill.
Credit Johnny Kauffman / WABE
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Gov. Nathan Deal Wednesday signed a varied and wide-reaching criminal justice reform bill into law.

It’s the latest in a long list of reforms Deal has signed as governor.

In 2011, Georgia had the fourth-highest prison population of any state, Deal told an audience at the Capitol Wednesday.  

Now, he said, it’s down by more than 2,000.

“Virtually everywhere I go in the state I’ll have a mother or father, or an actual person who’s been in the system, to come up to me and thank me for the reforms because it has made a difference in their life or in the life of a family member,” he said.

The new law makes drug offenders eligible for food stamps on release.

“Offenders who have successfully completed their sentence and probation after leaving jail, they become eligible for the food stamp program,” Deal said, adding that Georgia is one of three states that doesn’t do that already. 

The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute estimates the ban kept about 6,665 people from getting food stamps.

The law also moves some school discipline cases away from the juvenile justice system, and closer to the schools themselves.

Deal said criminal justice reforms next year will likely target probation procedures.

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