Issues - Drug Screening for Public Assistance Recipients
Fight for Values:
There is no justification or excuse for instituting these mean-spirited and punitive measures that single out struggling Virginians
Requiring drug tests for TANF recipients singles out low-income Virginians for increased scrutiny and punitive measures based simply on the fact that they are poor. Virginians of all income levels receive state funds: educational grants and loans, salaries, and tax breaks. Targeting low income Virginians for drug tests stigmatizes people for the simple fact that they’re poor.
Instead of treating struggling Virginians as lazy, uneducated, drug users and throwing up more obstacles to them receiving the assistance they need to get back on track, what we should be doing is investing in creating good jobs and providing adequate funding to help job seekers find new employment.
TANF is not a hand out; it is a temporary assistance program that helps families get the support and training they need to achieve self-sufficiency.
Get the Facts:
- Drug testing programs cost more money than they save. In Indiana, Just 1 percent of participants in an workforce training program failed their drug tests, according to the state’s Department of Workforce Development. . In the approximately 3 months that Florida’s law was in effect, only 32 applicants failed the test and more than 7,000 passed. It is highly unlikely that a similar measure in Virginia would save any money and would likely be a cost.
- Massive drug testing is the last thing cash-strapped states like Virginia can afford. A conservative estimate by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration puts the cost of drug testing at $25 to $75 per test
- There is no evidence TANF recipients are more likely to abuse drugs than the general population
- These drug testing bills are likely unconstitutional. A federal appeals judge has halted the implementation of similar Florida measures for violating prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure.