An increasingly punitive attitude towards low income mothers has
dramatically affected the legal systems poor women interact with
most welfare, the criminal justice system and family courts.
In each of these arenas poor women are stigmatized; their behavior
is viewed with rising suspicion and hostility; and efforts to control
their sexual and maternal behavior are ever harsher.
form these efforts have taken is a lifetime ban on cash assistance
and food stamps to women with felony drug convictions. The federal
welfare reform legislation enacted in 1996 provides that unless
a state affirmatively passes legislation to the contrary, any individual
with a felony drug conviction for conduct after August 22, 1996
is permanently barred from receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families (TANF) benefits or food stamps.TANF is the block grant
program that replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC),
the program most people think of as "welfare."
to Essays Index Page