A Chance at Renewal

By Eric Mitchell

Easter is not only about Christ’s resurrection, but it’s also about renewal and redemption.

Does God’s grace in Jesus Christ move you to help others realize a new life and a second chance?

An overwhelming number of people leaving prison and those with felony convictions are at serious risk of hunger because employers don’t want to hire them. Licensing prohibitions can bar certain individuals from working in certain fields. And even when some do get jobs, they earn much less than they did before prison.

Worse, laws ban individuals with felony convictions from getting government assistance. Many can’t receive SNAP (food stamps), TANF (welfare), or housing assistance.

With no job, no shelter, and no help, many people in these situations are denied a second chance.

This isn’t right. And it doesn’t make sense. We should create conditions that help people successfully reenter communities, reconnect with their families, and make a decent living after serving their sentences. Instead, we’re doing the opposite.

Congress can change this. Call or email your U.S. representative and your U.S. senators at 800-826-3688. Urge Congress to remove the ban on SNAP and TANF for felony drug convictions. Urge Congress to also oppose restrictions that keep formerly incarcerated individuals from accessing anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs.

Christ extended us a second chance and told us to forgive others. People leaving prison and those who have criminal records should have a genuine opportunity at a new start. Because of Easter, I believe in the power of redemption. Tell Congress to lift the benefits bans.

Learn more by reading our fact sheet: Hunger and Mass Incarceration.

Eric Mitchell is the director of government relations at Bread for the World.

Photo: Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World.