Quinn asks Bloomy to stop food stamp fingerprinting

October 12, 2011 10:51:18 AM PDT
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is asking the Bloomberg administration to stop checking the fingerprints of people who apply for food stamps.

The city spent $190,000 last year on the fingerprinting and caught 1,200 fraudulent cases.

But Quinn says there is no need for verification and that it discourages minorities who need food stamps.

"Requiring food stamp applicants to submit to finger imaging to receive benefits is an ineffective way to detect fraud and wastes millions of dollars in taxpayer money each year," Quinn said. "The city spends its own scarce tax dollars on a process that serves no public good, reduces the amount of federal dollars coming into the city and keeps working families from receiving with the assistance they need to keep food on the table. Given that food stamp benefits are paid for by the federal government, and that they are the single most effective way to combat hunger, we should do everything possible to encourage, not discourage, eligible families to apply."

Quinn and other officials announced that legislation will be introduced next week that would require the Human Resources Administration to submit an annual report to the Council on the amount of money spent on finger imaging each year, and the number of fraudulent cases detected and referred to for criminal prosecution as a result of the practice.

Last week, the state of California eliminated finger imaging requirements leaving New York City and Arizona as the only two places in the United States that still use the process as an eligibility requirement for receiving public food stamp assistance. Texas eliminated the finger imaging practice earlier this year.