Over the years the number of people depending on welfare has increased immensely and today the question of whether these people should be drug tested or not arises. Millions of people receive welfare from the government whether it is from unemployment benefits, financial aid, food stamps, or other programs that assist people struggling to survive. Welfare was developed to assist the needy with their financial needs. As we can see in history throughout the years the government has developed more programs to assist the poor. In 1935 Congress passed the Social Security Act, which gives aid to the dependent children. This law also implements unemployment insurance and senior citizens a pension. In 1964 Congress passed the Food Stamp Act to help needy families buy groceries. Even though these Acts where created to help the poor, many taxpayers disagree that welfare is essential for the economy.
A very dramatic measure that has people talking is the consideration of passing a law that requires drug testing for welfare recipients. There are those that support the measure taking place but also those that are opposed it. I believe if there is any corruptive behavior or any behavior associating with the use of illegal drugs or abusing any type of drug that is suspected, then the recipient should be drug tested upon request to keep receiving aid. In 1989 there was two cases that involved drug testing public employees—Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives’ Association and National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab—the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government can require drug tests when it has a “compelling” interest to do so unrelated to law enforcement. In 2000, a year after Michigan passed a law requiring welfare recipients to take drug tests, federal Judge Victoria Roberts ruled in Marchwinski v. Howard that the statute violates the Fourth Amendment’s ban on “unreasonable searches and seizures” and is thus unconstitutional. In her decision, she writes that the state has no compelling interest that justifies requiring the test (Key Events in the History of Welfare and Drug Testing, 2013).
Supporters argue that the government should drug test welfare recipients because they believe that “taxes paid by Americans should not go to people who use drugs or have substance abuse problems.” These people also believe that drug testing will provide an initiative for welfare recipients to seek treatment and become productive in society (Welfare Drug Testing, 2013). In 1996 Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. This law allows states to drug test people applying for benefits under the federal welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program (Key Events in the History of Welfare Drug Testing, 2013).
Ranee, a writer and contributor to Helium, is a supporter for mandatory drug testing welfare recipients, as she demonstrates when asked “should drug tests be required of Welfare Recipients? She argues that welfare should be only reserved for emergencies. She wrote “I’m not downing the welfare system; I just believe that it should be reserved for emergency situations, like people losing their jobs because of the economy and the disabled.” She supports this by bringing up her mother as a person who abused drugs and the system and that the welfare benefits encouraged her to keep on doing these things (Welfare Programs Should Include Mandatory Drug Testing, 2012). “Bill Piper, director of national affairs of the Drug Policy Alliance, tries to debate the subject with Mike Bennett, US senator from Colorado, on Fox News.
Piper states that it is an invasion of privacy and would be humiliating for someone to have to admit that they are on Viagra or anti-depressants.” Ranee says that Bill Piper believes that drug testing welfare recipients would be too expensive and risky for children’s lives. She disagrees with his perception. She also thinks Piper is ridiculous for wanting to “expand access to treatment” instead of drug testing. Ranee talks from personal experience and the main reason why I believe she is a supporter of drug testing welfare recipients is because when she was younger her mother used drugs and abused the system and still is. She has a perception of the measure according to how she saw things growing up and the things that hurt her such as her mother. She strongly believes that hard working earned money should not go to those who abuse the system (Welfare Programs Should Include Mandatory Drug Testing, 2012).
Those opposed to drug testing welfare recipients believe that it demonstrates false andharmful stereotypes; it’s not fair, and unconstitutional. Opponents argue that drug testing welfare recipients is unconstitutional according to the Fourth Amendment violating privacy. Daily Kos blogger Doug Berger wrote in September 2013, “It means the government has to have probable cause to test you for drugs. Having a bias toward poor people, thinking they must all be dirty and on drugs isn’t probable cause.” Opponents of the measure also bring forth the issue that drug testing is too costly for the government. Instead of saving money for these welfare programs they are spending it on drug testing people and out of those they have tested only a very small percentage have been abusing drugs.
According to “By the Numbers: Welfare Drug Testing 2013” about 29 states considered the introduction of a drug testing measure in 2013. Since 2013 about 10 states have passed a drug testing measure. The estimated annual cost of the supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is about 80 billion and the proposed cuts by the government are 39 billion. About 15 percent of the U.S. population uses food stamps and 50 million are Americans. Thought history we can see that the number of welfare recipients have increased immensely. In 1972 about 10 million people received welfare benefits. In 1996 about 12 million people received welfare. In 2010 about 4.5 million received welfare. The number of people, that where drug tested by Michigan’s welfare, was 268 and only 8 percent tested positive. The number of people tested under Florida’s welfare drug testing program was 4,086 and only 2.6 percent failed.
The total cost of Florida’s welfare drug testing program was 45,780. The percentage of TANF recipients who reported having a drug abuse problem is 5 percent and 8 percent of the general population (By the Numbers: Welfare Drug Testing, 2013). There were many lawsuits regarding the measure taken to drug test welfare recipients. In July of 2011 Florida passed a law that required all TAFN benefit recipients to drug test. Luis Lebron, a TAFN recipient, filed against this measure with the help of The American Civil Liberties Union and in October federal judge Mary Scriven ruled that the measure violated the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution’s unreasonable search and seizure against protection (Appeals Court Upholds Michigan Welfare Drug Testing, 2013). In 2013 Scriven’s decision was appealed by a three-judge panel on the 11th Circuit Court. This is a part of what the excerpt said: Even were we to conclude that the state could not show a special need sufficient to justify the drug testing, we would nonetheless find that the plaintiffs have not shown that the drug testing is an unreasonable search.
Rather, we think that the evidence suggests that the Michigan program imposes a condition on the plaintiffs’ receiving the program benefits, and that there has been no showing that the condition is unreasonable. They believed that drug testing was needed in order to make sure that the money that was being given to welfare recipients was being spent on what it was intended for and not for drugs (Appeals Court Upholds Michigan Welfare Drug Testing, 2014). In September of 2008 North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed legislation that would have required some recipients of cash welfare benefits to undergo drug screenings, calling it a financial boondoggle that had proven ineffective in other states. Even though lawsuits are being pursued by the opponents of the measure, states are still taking measures to drug test welfare recipients. The states that have passed such laws are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah, according to NCSL (North Carolina governor vetoes drug tests for some welfare seekers, 2013). Neither a supporter nor an opponent of the measure of drug testing, I believe if there is any corruptive behavior or any behavior associating with the use of illegal drugs or abusing any type of drug that is suspected, then the recipient should be drug tested upon request to keep receiving aid.
ACLU of Florida, Press release about Luis Lebron vs. David Wilkins summary judgment, Dec. 31, 2013 “Appeals Court Upholds Michigan Welfare Drug Testing Program (sidebar).” Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 31 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. . “By the Numbers: Welfare Drug Testing.” Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 31 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. . Interview, Michelle Glady, spokeswoman Florida Department of Children and Families, Dec. 31, 2013 “Judge strikes down Florida law mandating drug tests for welfare.” Reuters. Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 31 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. “Key Events in the History of Welfare Drug Testing (sidebar).” Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 31 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. . “North Carolina
governor vetoes drug tests for some welfare seekers.” Reuters. Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 15 Aug. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida, Luis Lebron vs. David Wilkins summary judgment, Dec. 31, 2013 “Welfare Drug Testing.” Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 31 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. . “Welfare Programs Should Include Mandatory Drug Testing.” Welfare. Ed. Margaret Haerens. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.
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