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Denial of Federal Benefits (DFB) Program

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History of the Program
Establishment Under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 The Denial of Federal Benefits for Drug Offenders (DFB) Program, established under Section 5301 of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-690), codified at Title 21, U.S. Code, Section 862, provides state and federal courts with the ability to deny all or selected federal benefits to individuals convicted of drug trafficking or drug possession. This law provides an additional tool to punish drug offenders. The program allows the court, at its discretion, to exempt convicted individuals from certain benefits, such as public housing, welfare, and drug treatment, and from earned benefits such as retirement and Social Security and health, disability, and veterans assistance. Among those benefits courts can deny are student financial aid; small business loans; media and transportation licenses; medical, engineering, scientific, and academic research grants; and contracts and purchase orders issued by federal agencies or those who use federally appropriated monies. The court, at its discretion, may also restore denied benefits for those who successfully complete drug rehabilitation programs or for other reasons.

The President Asks the U.S. Department of Justice To Form Clearinghouse On August 30, 1989, President George Bush issued a communication to Congress that described the procedures for implementing the program and restricted the program's application to convictions occurring on or after September 1, 1989.

The President charged the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) with establishing a clearinghouse for all sentences imposed under this law and notifying state courts. General supervision and direction was subsequently delegated to the Assistant Attorney General (AAG) for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). On November 30, 1989, sentencing guidelines for federal courts were amended to reflect denial of benefits as an option. All state supreme courts and state court administrators were advised of the program in a letter dated January 26, 1990, from OJP's AAG. This announcement was followed on September 11, 1990, by the distribution of program implementation guidelines and forms to affected organizations within the state and federal courts. The program became fully operational in September 1990.

Data Matching Agreements Allow Interagency Communication On March 5, 1992, a Computer Matching Agreement became effective between DOJ and the U.S. Department of Education to facilitate the electronic exchange of information on people sentenced to a denial of federal benefits and people who have applied for postsecondary educational benefits.

A memorandum of understanding between DOJ and the Federal Communications Commission was approved by both parties and became effective on March 31, 1992, and remains in effect until terminated by either party. This agreement addressed the denial of federal licenses for radio and television stations.

Redelegation of Authority to the Bureau of Justice Assistance OJP's AAG assigned the Bureau of Justice Assistance responsibility for the Denial of Federal Benefits Program in April 1995.

Date Created: December 13, 2019