A criminal record, including a drug felony conviction, does not bar you from receiving SNAP benefits in Massachusetts. However, you can be barred from SNAP benefits if you:
- are "actively fleeing" prosecution or punishment for a felony, or
- violate a condition of probation or parole.
The 2008 Farm Bill, Section 4112 directs states not to disqualify individuals whose names happen to appear on a criminal database until the state has confirmed that the individual is actually “fleeing prosecution” and that they are being “actively pursued by law enforcement.” USDA has issued preliminary guidance that for a SNAP applicant to be considered “fleeing,” the applicant must be aware that a warrant has been issued for his or her arrest. If you see any households denied or terminated for SNAP benefits on this basis, contact an advocate.
- You cannot get benefits if you get more than half your meals from a prison or half way house, but you may be eligible for SNAP benefits if you are sentenced to home detention (for example, with an electronic bracelet). See Can I get benefits if I live in a hospital, school, or other residential institution?.
Additional USDA Policy Guidance on Fleeing Felons
- Parole Violator Match--DTA fraud unit runs weekly matches on clients who are parole violators. Match is not “verified upon receipt.” DTA fraud unit will follow up with cases identified to confirm information and determine case action. Ops Memo 2013-37 (July 26, 2013). Also, see http://origin.www.fns.usda.gov/snap/rules/Memo/2001/Fleeingfelons.htm.
Produced by Patricia Baker, Victoria Negus, Deborah Harris, Laura Gallant and Rochelle Hahn, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute Last updated January 2014