The Women’s Law Project strongly opposes Senate Bill 6, and urges you to support women in recovery in Pennsylvania by expressing opposition to this legislation to your state Senator.
In short, Senate Bill 6 would impose a lifetime ban on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) assistance for any Pennsylvanian with an addiction that led to a drug-related felony conviction or guilty plea. TANF is designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency.
It is no secret that the country is in the throes of an opioid addiction epidemic, and that “Pennsylvania is in the midst of a full-fledged epidemic.”
In October 2016, the House Majority Policy Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives spoke with dozens of medical experts at public hearings about the crisis, and published a report with recommendations.
According to the report:
- In 2015, 3,383 Pennsylvanians of all kinds, from all backgrounds, died from drug overdose.
- Despite a great demand for treatment, there is a significant “bed” and provider shortage in Pennsylvania.
- Pennsylvania is also experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals to fill the in-demand jobs of the substance abuse treatment field.
- In regards to treatment, most experts agreed that there are multiple pathways to recovery, and addicts need affordable access to all options.
- Over time, money invested in prevention, intervention and treatment will result in significant savings to our criminal justice system and all levels of government.
Yet, as the opioid crisis continues to worsen in Pennsylvania, the same legislative body that recommended supporting multifaceted paths to recovery just months ago are now proposing to partially re-implement lifetime public bans on public assistance for anyone with an addiction that led to a drug-related felony conviction or guilty plea.
Pennsylvania enforced lifetime bans in the past, and the results were disastrous. Supporters of these bans often argue they are cracking down on “drug kingpins out to milk the system,” an unfounded argument rooted in stereotypical tropes about low-income and addicted people. In reality, the vast majority of people banned for life were addicted women with children, and the ban made recovery harder for them, and the addiction crisis worse.
When Pennsylvania got rid of lifetime bans in 2003, over 100 organizations including the District Attorney’s Association, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and women’s drug and alcohol service providers supported the move.
Now, Pennsylvania suddenly wants to go backwards again, at a time when the addiction crisis is at its peak.
The Women’s Law Project sent all Pennsylvania Senators a public memo urging them to vote against Senate Bill 6, which you can read and downloaded here.
We urge you to contact your Senator and urge him or her to OPPOSE Senate Bill 6.
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