By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.
This is one of the dumbest things I've heard recently coming out of state legislatures, forcing thinking people to pose the question: And what is your point?
States consider drug tests for welfare recipients
By TOM BREEN, Associated Press Writer Thu Mar 26, 9:28 am ET
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Want government assistance? Just say no to drugs.
Lawmakers in at least eight states want recipients of food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare to submit to random drug testing.
The effort comes as more Americans turn to these safety nets to ride out the recession. Poverty and civil liberties advocates fear the strategy could backfire, discouraging some people from seeking financial aid and making already desperate situations worse.
Those in favor of the drug tests say they are motivated out of a concern for their constituents' health and ability to put themselves on more solid financial footing once the economy rebounds. But proponents concede they also want to send a message: you don't get something for nothing.
"Nobody's being forced into these assistance programs," said Craig Blair, a Republican in the West Virginia Legislature who has created a Web site — notwithmytaxdollars.com — that bears a bobble-headed likeness of himself advocating this position. "If so many jobs require random drug tests these days, why not these benefits?"
Uh, right. And if they test positive—then what? Throw functioning drug addicts, who aren't committing crimes against anyone but their own bodies, in jail? It's a different story with violent criminals, but alcoholics and low-scale drug users? There's no room! Our jails are already overflowing.
Everyone knows drug addicts have to "hit bottom" before they reform. Far as I'm concerned, living on welfare is already "hitting bottom," and forcing them into homeless shelters isn't going to get them any closer to recovery. Besides, there aren't enough spaces in cheap or free recovery programs. So the point of this was, what?
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