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Should Welfare Clients Be Drug Tested?

May 27, 2013

When people go to family court in Niagara county they have to take their petition or any paperwork that they are turning in regarding children, custody, visitation or child support and go directly to the probation department.  There they are given a drug screening and a short interview.  Then the petition or paperwork must be taken back to family court and can then be turned in.

Job applicants must be screened for drugs, prescription and illicit before they are hired in most cases.  After the employee is hired they are then required to submit to random drug testing, again in most cases.

So what about welfare recipients? Florida and a few other states have passed these new laws requiring welfare applicants to be drug tested and then required to submit to random drug testing but the laws were shot down in the supreme courts by judges because the laws violate the fourth amendment.   There are rising concerns to issues revolving around illegal search and personal privacy.

I looked at both sides, both arguments and I am certainly interested in the coming months and years as to the outcome of this debate.  It has to be a difficult issue for those in power to make a fair, just and constitutional decision regarding this issue.  The first thing I would be concerned with is that immediately I would think most people who are receiving welfare are suffering from some form of addiction.  This would concern me for many reasons, it would limit their ability to receive health insurance for treatment, the ability to survive while in treatment and what about the children of drug addicts?  Should they be forced to suffer and starve at the hands of the government because of their parents disease?  How will people survive if they do not have services to help them?

It turns out that I was all worked up over variables that are almost impossible to decipher because in Florida, the 6 months or so that this law was in affect only 2% of the people receiving welfare tested positive for illicit drugs.  Now there is the issues of how they administered the tests, when the administered them, or did they schedule the tests giving people time to clean up or cheat the test.  I don’t know.  What I do want to know is what other people think.  I have created a poll for bloggers to vote on this is and see the results.


					
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From → Newsworthy, Recovery

4 Comments
  1. For me, being in recovery is all about living in transparency. When I have nothing to hide…. I have nothing to hide. If others ask questions, or asked me to do a do a drug test, I’d do it with absolutely no problem at all. When someone is being defensive, they usually have something to hide. People with nothing to hide, would most likely understand why the ‘protocol’ was in place. It keeps rumors and guessing out of the equation. Folks who are active in addiction, it gives them the help, they often don’t know they need. For me it’s a win-win. .

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    • I agree about the “nothing to hide,” what’s the big deal if we’re clean? But if they aren’t clean, they still have to eat, their kids have to eat…and then there’s the 4th amendment issue…I’m not sure how I feel about it. I agree with you if it was me, I do what I’m asked, I get drug tested every week randomly sometimes more sometimes less but I’m in recovery and in treatment. I think the bigger picture is what should be considered, addiction is a disease and we are all at different levels, degrees and places in our illness…some still suffering in active addiction. Do we punish the ill? Treat them like criminals? I don’t know, I find this topic very interesting though.

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  2. helnbak permalink

    Never mind having to be drug tested to get welfare, it sounds pretty insane to me having to be drug tested to get a job! This means that if you use drugs you can’t get employed, and if they then test for drugs to get benefits (welfare), you can’t get them either! So either way you are stuffed.
    What does this mean, you will have whole families cast out onto the streets to beg? That’s pretty twisted. There is a very obvious attitude in the US that people who are addicted are criminal. It’s not really conductive to helping people change their lives, it’s very efficiently going to wreck them even further.
    It’s all very well saying that testing will enable people to ‘get help’, but that requires a sympathetic government which is focused on giving people help – if you get a strong right wing government in power, it could actually mean that people are singled out, vilified and thrown out of their homes into a lifetime of poverty and suffering.

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    • They have already done it in Florida and I believe they tried it in another state, Maine is trying to pass the law right now but each time they do it gets shot down by a judge deeming it unconstitutional and violates the 4th amendment which prevents illegal search and seizure and our right to privacy. Absolutely though, by the time it gets to court the damage is done and families are out of their homes living in their car or worse. I believe it took over 6 months for the law to be overturned in Florida.

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