The program aims to address food insecurity for individuals upon their release, which is critical for their survival and success in society.
IDOC and IDHS have recently announced the full expansion of a SNAP benefits program for released inmates in the state of Illinois
As of April 3rd, individuals in custody can submit pre-release SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) applications. The program began after IDHS received approval from the USDA Food and Nutrition Services for a Prisoner Pre-Release Waiver. From there, IDHS (Illinois Department of Human Services) and IDOC (Illinois Department of Corrections) staff participated in training and worked together to roll out the program.
According to Angela Mecagni, IDOC’s re-entry administrator, there are many barriers to successful re-entry, and the program is designed to help released inmates become productive citizens and contributing members of society. The program has now expanded to facilities all across the state of Illinois, including Decatur Correctional Center, Illinois River Correctional Center, Kewanee Life Skills Re-Entry Center, Lincoln Correctional Center, Vienna Correctional Center, Graham Correctional Center, Murphysboro Life Skills Re-Entry Center, Centralia Correctional Center, Lawrence Correctional Center, Western Illinois Correctional Center, Danville Correctional Center, East Moline Correctional Center, Jacksonville Correctional Center, and Hill Correctional Center.
State Senator Terri Bryant has expressed her thoughts on the new program, stating that as long as the program does not cut Illinoisans already in line for those same benefits, allowing individuals in custody to submit pre-release SNAP applications makes logical sense.
Within 10 days of release, IDOC’s staff assists individuals in custody with their snap application process, and upon receipt of the application, IDHS conducts a telephone interview with the individual. On the day of release, the application is certified, and SNAP benefits are available within two workdays.
IDOC staff issue the Link card to the individual upon release
Since the program’s inception, 28,000 individuals have been released from custody with SNAP benefits, and IDOC aims to increase that number in the years to come. According to Grace B. Hou, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services, it is crucial for formerly incarcerated individuals to have immediate access to healthy food for themselves and their families through the SNAP program.
She thanked IDOC for their continued partnership to ensure food security for individuals being released from IDOC facilities across Illinois.