The RESTORE Act is essential to ex-convicts struggling to assimilate

In May 2023, at the 118th Congress, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduced the bicameral RESTORE Act with Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN). 

The RESTORE Act, which stands for Re-entry Support Through Opportunities for Resources and Essentials, is a policy that tackles food insecurity of incarcerated individuals. This is important because those leaving prison are more likely to return if they experience issues with poverty and hunger.

This policy’s goal is to repeal the 1996 ban and include the RESTORE Act on the 2023 Farm Bill. This ban allows for people with drug felony convictions to be denied benefits under the supplemental nutrition assistance (SNAP) program. 

Unfortunately, this specifically affects minorities, because people of color disproportionately receive drug charges. Men of color specifically are not provided necessities or support when getting out of prison, leading them to become stuck in the criminal justice system and out of communities. 

The ban also impacts the children and family members of convicted individuals. Denying SNAP benefits creates obstacles for those recovering from substance use disorders, due to lack of food and other resources heightens the risk of overdose, relapse and even death.

The main benefit to the RESTORE Act is that any State law, policy or regulation that imposes conditions of eligibility for the SNAP program based on an individual having a conviction for an offense related to a controlled substance shall have no force for effect. 

The Act also codifies an USDA administrative waiver so people can apply for SNAP 30 days before their release date. This allows for individuals to have a smoother transition into society. The RESTORE Act promotes public safety and social justice for those involved in the criminal justice system. 

“The RESTORE Act is very important because it sets those released from prison up for success rather than failure. Many individuals coming out of prison do not have the financial means to support themselves and their families, so they are going to rely upon assistance from the government,” said Fellowship MSW student Bradford Waudby. “Not providing SNAP benefits sets these individuals up for struggling because they will have to resort to illegal means in order to provide for their families.”

Ariana Ramirez, an undergraduate student majoring in social work, said that “the ban is set up to add more stigma to the population that has been incarcerated or currently is. It’s dehumanizing because they are being denied opportunities for basic needs. They are pretty much being stripped of their human rights.”

We think that this policy should be supported because with government assistance, drug offenders will have proper access to food. Utilizing SNAP aids in obtaining basic necessities and decreasing food insecurity. Those who are previously incarcerated need SNAP in order to adjust to re-entrance into society and have a sense of economic stability. 

Everyone deserves to have equal opportunities and promoting equity is crucial. Those who have served their time in prison shouldn’t experience any more consequences for their drug charges. Anyone who is interested in showing support for the RESTORE Act so that the government can help improve and have this bill passed can sign our “Support the RESTORE Act 2023” petition available through,


Featured photo courtesy of @Corey_Booker, X