There are many welfare programs available to the public that a lot of individuals depend upon. Without access to certain benefits some people may not survive. Such benefits include food stamps, medical assistance, cash assistance, day care vouchers and job placement assistance. Although some may argue that there are people who take advantage of the welfare programs, there are plenty of people who require and appreciate the benefits provided. Recently there has been talk of drug testing welfare recipients.
Because the public is concerned with welfare recipients taking advantage of the system they want to keep drug addicts from receiving benefits. This is a major controversy right now is our society but once investigated it is clear that welfare programs should not require mandatory drug testing. Dealing with social services and being a part of the welfare programs is not a fun time. Acquiring benefits usually consists of long wait times, a lot of paperwork and rude or irritated social workers. While receiving benefits it is a requirement that you re-certify about every 3 to 6 months.
That means resubmitting all paperwork and information again, with or without changes. If your paperwork does not arrive on time to the social services office, our benefits can be cancelled. All of these components of being on welfare become extremely frustrating, especially for the people already dealing with the stress of no money, no food, no medical benefits and no job, and make it hard enough for people for people to receive assistance without the added drug testing which many lawmakers are now trying to enforce.
Many are unpleased with the national welfare system. Over the years many states have advocated for welfare reform. Observers of these welfare experiments believe that the experiments will help show the county what is beneficial and what is not. A study done by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that more than one third of mothers on welfare are addicted to drugs. Experimenting with drug testing of welfare recipients could help to reduce this number and help young mothers get in to treatment and find jobs.
But taking away their benefits due to a failed drug test would not help cure the addiction or provide assistance to those in need. Although many experiments have the potential to be good for overall society, many still question its effectiveness and legality. In a viewpoint from Helium, Ranee, a writer and contributor, expresses her extreme support of drug testing individuals who receive welfare benefits. She talks about her own experience with her mother whom abused the welfare system in order to support her own drug habit.
Ranee states that the system “should be reserved for emergency situations, like people losing their jobs because of the economy and the disabled. ” (“Welfare Programs Should Include Mandatory Drug Testing”) By providing benefits to drug addicts she feels, just like many others, that the welfare system is encouraging drug use and wasting tax payer dollars. Matt Lewis and Elizabeth Kenefick are research assistants for the Workforce Development Team at the Center for Law and Social Policy who argue against claims made by people such as Ranee.
They argue that while some may think drug testing will save money, because of the assumption that many will lose benefits due to drug use, is false. Mandatory drug testing from their point of view is based on stereotypes. It will be costly and inefficient while imposing risks on the health and welfare of innocent children. Lewis and Kenefick instead offer the alternative of helping drug addicts and supporting them in an effort to get clean. Several states including Alabama, Maryland and New York found drug testing of welfare recipients to be inefficient. Alabama discovered that job training programs were more effective than drug testing in moving people off welfare. ” (What Are Some Alternatives and Improvements to the Welfare System”) Florida was another state that examined the results of drug testing welfare recipients and found it to be inefficient. The state originally thought that if welfare beneficiaries were drug tested in order to receive benefits that many of them would come off of the welfare programs and the state would save money. The law to drug test welfare recipients was eventually passed.
After examining the results to see how much money was saved, Florida realized they had actually lost money. Once the state of Florida had examined all the results and found that the drug testing did not actually save money, they began to argue that the law was passed not to save money but to get its residents off of illegal drugs. There is no evidence that the law has done such. Many individuals, especially single mothers are being affected by welfare reform. A lot of mothers are losing their benefits when they start working or are denied jobs because of drug addiction problems.
One alternative to this crisis is supporting drug treatment programs and providing assistance to the people who need help getting healthy. Most single family homes are the producers of drug abusers and criminals. By helping to cure addiction, many would be able to find better jobs and eventually come off of welfare. Peter Reuter, a visiting scholar at the Urban Institute, observed that only 10% of the welfare population has a drug abuse problem. That is far less than the 25% originally observed during the welfare reform debate.
Welfare needs to be reformed with more options and alternatives for drug addicts and single mothers rather than just denying them benefits. Many jobs now require drug testing in order to be employed. Over the years the amount of institutions requiring drug has increased significantly. The federal government, insurance companies, courts, welfare programs and even schools now require drug tests. “Some experts predict that eventually anyone receiving public money of any sort will have to be tested. ” (“Drug Testing”) Louisiana requires drug testing of anyone who is receiving benefits from the state.
If you fail a drug test your benefits are cancelled. But with all that said lawmakers who are making these harsh and radical decisions are in fact, not being tested themselves and are not required to be tested. This is a violation of recipients of rights and it is “likely unconstitutional. ” (“Don’t Welfare Recipients Have Rights? ”) In Michigan, the ACLU argues that it is not fair to test welfare recipients for drugs when other state financial beneficiaries are not being drug tested. Michigan was a state who took immediate advantage of the welfare reform laws which allowed states to test welfare recipients for drug use.
In 1996 a Michigan statute that required drug testing for parents who apply for or receive welfare benefits, was authorized but not required by federal legislation. “On September 30, 1996, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit on behalf of Michigan welfare applicants, claiming that “mandatory drug testing of a broad swath of the adult population has never in our nation’s history been enacted by a state government, much less approved by a court. ”” (“Don’t Welfare Recipients Have Rights? ”) “The law went into effect in 1999 but was quickly blocked by a federal judge. (“Law Requiring Drug Testing of Welfare Parents is Voided”) Victoria A Roberts a judge of the Federal Appeals Court in Cincinnati, argued that the law was not constitutional and violated individual rights. The idea of testing welfare recipients is gaining support within the republican community. It is an issue that came up in the presidential debate with Romney expressing his support of the idea by calling it an “excellent idea. ” (“Growing Support for Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients”) Other supporters include Newt Gingrich and Edward A Buchanan, a republican who is the speaker of the Wyoming House.
Romney wants to make sure that individuals receiving welfare benefits are not using them to pay for drugs. They argue that children of parents of drugs are not being properly taken care and that by passing such a law it would deter parents from using drugs. Despite the rulings against such laws, supporters are continuing to pursue the effort. A proposal to have welfare applicants submit to drug testing has already been endorsed by a bipartisan panel and is stirring interest in Annapolis, Md. Lawmakers are in favor of the law granted it is affordable and workable. Under the proposal, welfare applicants who tested positive for drugs and failed to attend treatment programs would lose benefits for themselves and see their children benefits doled out by a third party such as a church or charity. ” (“State legislators say drug testing puts welfare children’s needs first; Plan’s supporters say details are still vague”) The churches are infuriated with the proposal and are opposed to such measures. Without the support from the churches, attempting to enact such a policy will be very difficult.
Anyone who knows the facts or has been a part of welfare programs or involved in welfare reform can obviously see that welfare programs should not require mandatory drug testing. The amount of money and time that goes into putting such policies in place could be much better spent on providing alternatives such as job placement assistance and drug treatment programs. Helping individuals to better their lives rather than take away the assistance and benefits that they need to survive would have a much greater positive impact on society.
Denying benefits to families with parents of drug users jeopardizes everyone else in the household including the innocent children who just want something to eat or a warm place to rest their heads. This is not a matter of saving money or keeping drug addicts off of welfare. All the evidence has proved that since the first law was passed it has cost more money and has not deterred drug addicts from still applying. As a society we need to work together to curb drug addiction and help families make a better living.
We should not take much needed help from them and then get upset when they are jobless and on drugs because they feel like there is no hope. Drug testing of welfare recipients is a violation of human and individual rights and should not be required by any state or enforced by any law.
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