Second Chances

Those in recovery should be encouraged

We talk a lot about giving recovering drug addicts second chances. Yet in one regard, West Virginia is better at doing that for convicted murderers and rapists. That makes no sense.

People convicted of drug-related felonies in our state are automatically disqualified from receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp) benefits. Other felony convictions carry no such prohibition.

Only two other states enforce similar bans.

Some of those convicted of drug felonies are, indeed, the scum of the earth. But some dealt in drugs to support their own addictions. Some sincerely want to change their lives.

Bills pending in the Legislature would eliminate the ban in many cases. The state Senate version would retain it for those convicted of drug felonies involving deaths, injuries or misuse of SNAP benefits.

Allowing people who have made mistakes but who are trying to turn their lives around access to SNAP is one way of encouraging them to join the mainstream. Legislators ought to approve the Senate version of the bill.

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We West Virginians owe an enormous debt to veterans of military service. One way of repaying it could be to offer some help to veterans who run afoul of the law as a result of problems stemming from their service.

A bill introduced by state Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, would do that by establishing some special courts for veterans. On Wednesday, the full Senate approved the measure, SB 40 — unanimously.

Now, the House of Delegates should follow through by approving SB 40. Doing that is not too much to ask to help men and women who have sacrificed much for us.

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