Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients To Be Mandatory in Several States

Drug tests in several states will now be mandatory for people getting public assistance and could be denied to those whose urine samples reveal drug use.

Drug testing in several states will now be mandatory for people getting public assistance and could be denied to those whose urine samples reveal drug use.

The states are among 36 that considered proposals this year linking benefits such as welfare, unemployment, food stamps, public housing and job training to drug test results, reports The New York Times.

Supporters of the move say the policies ensure tax dollars aren't simply paying for drug abuse.

However, opponents argue the tests reinforce stereotypes about the poor and that those receiving public assistance are no more likely than others to use drugs.

Kimberley Davis is the director of social services at Operation Breakthrough, which provides daycare to low-income women in Kansas City, Mo., reports The NY Times.

"All this does is perpetuate the stereotype that low-income people are lazy, shiftless drug addicts and if all they did was pick themselves up from the bootstraps, then the country wouldn't be in the mess it's in," Davis said.

Laws linking benefits to drug tests have been passed in states including Arizona, Indiana, Missouri and Florida.

Florida requires those receiving cash assistance via welfare to pay for their own tests. Enrollment there has now fallen to its lowest level since the start of the recession, The NY Times reports.

"To me it's real simple: Money is going to go to the benefit of children, not to a parent using drugs," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who lobbied for the proposal. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit last month challenging the law, saying the requirement violates the constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Most of the proposed drug-testing requirements have not won necessary support due to concerns about their legality dating to a federal court ruling a decade ago. In that case, a court struck down a Michigan law that required drug testing for all welfare recipients, The NY Times reports. The court ruled that law violated the constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
1 2 Next
Print Article