Drug Testing Welfare Recipients is an Expensive Bust

The various 50 states were once heralded as laboratories of democracy. Rick Perry, with his unforgettable flair for words, was overheard last year referring to Texas as “a lavatory of democracy,” but that’s neither here nor there. What is clear, however, is that many states today have become the drug testing labs of democracy. Not for everyone, this failed experiment is reserved exclusively for the poor, presumably drug-addled masses of welfare recipients. The results, after spending millions, are anything but inconclusive. The not guilty verdict in more than 99 percent of cases should be great news to the states who’ve implemented testing. It means that people on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) have lower rates of drug use and dependency than the general population.

Unsatisfied with the results thus far, more testing is belling called for in states such as Mississippi. Over a six month period, they spent $5,290 screening 3,656 applicants, 2 of whom tested positive for drug use. In Florida, where applicants were required to pay for testing out of their own pockets before receiving benefits, the courts struck down the law on 4th Amendment grounds as “unreasonable search and seizure.” reported an article on the subject. ┬áNot to be outdone, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is calling for mandatory drug testing of everyone who receives food stamps or unemployment benefits.
In today’s edition of ThinkProgress there’s an article laying out the numbers state by state. What should be evident is that stigmatizing individuals is expensive, invasive and counter-productive. People with chemical addiction and substance abuse problems need treatment, not public humiliation.

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