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12 positive in Utah welfare drug screening

Rating:
4/5,
  1. SmokeTwibz

    SALT LAKE CITY – Utah has spent more than $30,000 to screen welfare applicants for drug use since a new law went into effect a year ago, but only 12 people have tested positive, state figures show.

    The preliminary data from August 2012 through July 2013 indicates the state spent almost $6,000 to give 4,730 applicants a written test. After 466 showed a likelihood of drug use, they were given drug tests at a total cost of more than $25,000, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, which administers welfare benefits and the tests.

    “Obviously, drug use among this population is not an issue,” said Gina Cornia, executive director of Utahns Against Hunger and a longtime welfare-reform advocate.

    Lawmakers should instead use the money to address barriers to employment such as low reading skills, she said.

    Kaysville Republican Rep. Brad Wilson, who sponsored the legislation last year, said in an email that the 12 people netted by drug tests might not represent the full picture.

    Wilson pointed out that 24 percent of applicants who were required to take a drug test didn’t and did not continue in the application process. He said the process could be identifying applicants with drug issues who did not want to follow through and get treatment.

    “If people don’t want to be tested because they know the results are going to be positive, they shouldn’t get benefits and now they don’t,” Wilson said.

    He believes welfare applicants have substance abuse issues at a rate comparable to the general population, and testing helps them get treatment as they try to return to work.

    Sen. Aaron Osmond, a South Jordan Republican who co-sponsored the legislation, did not respond to requests for comment.

    Utah is one of at least eight states that have passed legislation requiring testing or screening for public assistance applicants. Similar laws have been proposed in at least 29 states this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    Critics, however, have said the laws unfairly stigmatize poor people and waste taxpayer money. Legal challenges have called the testing a violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

    In Florida, 108 people tested positive for drugs among the more than 4,000 tested. Florida’s law was temporarily halted by a federal judge, and a federal appeals court upheld the ban in February. Gov. Rick Scott has said he’s planning to appeal the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Michigan instituted a random drug-testing policy on welfare recipients that was stopped by a judge after five weeks. A four-year court battle followed before a federal appeals court ruled the policy unconstitutional.

    The American Civil Liberties Union has filed legal challenges against the policies in other states but not in Utah.

    Marina Lowe with the ACLU of Utah said her organization opposes the state law, but it’s not a clear violation of protections against searches without probable cause, as policies were in other states.

    Utah does not randomly target applicants or require all applicants to undergo a drug test.

    Instead, applicants must complete a written questionnaire designed to screen for substance abuse. Drugs tests are then performed on those rated as having a high probability of using drugs.

    Utah’s law also doesn’t disqualify people who test positive from receiving benefits. Instead, it requires them to enter substance abuse treatment.

    Lowe said Friday her organization was taking another look at Utah’s policy because the number of people identified as likely drug users was far greater than those who actually tested positive. An argument could be made that the screening test doesn’t satisfy the burden of probable cause, she said.

    “In light of these numbers, I think it begs the question of whether Utah is any different,” she said.

    Cornia, of Utahns Against Hunger, said efforts to drug-test welfare applicants are based on an assumption that people are unemployed because they did something wrong.

    “It must be because you’re using drugs. It must be because you’re lazy,” she said. “It plays into all those really negative stereotypes that I think prevents us from making really good public policy.”

    August 25, 2013
    Michelle L. Price | Associated Press | Durango Herald
    http://durangoherald.com/article/20130824/NEWS02/130829659/-1/News

    Author Bio

    SmokeTwibz
    My name is Jason Jones. I'm from Rochester, MN and I'm 35 years old. I scrap metal and work as grounds keeper at a local trailer park. In the winter, I shovel a bunch of driveways and sidewalks to make some extra money and to stay busy. In my free time, I try to find interesting articles about the war on drugs that I can post on Drugs-Forum, so that the information can reach a wider audience.

Comments

  1. Alien Sex Fiend
    Its interesting how 466 were chosen to be drug screned based on a written test... besides admitting they do drugs recreationally?
  2. jakemoe
    After working with low income families for 25 years I knew it was a waste of time. Not only does it cost a fortune for the test, it's just another way to bully people that are down on their luck. I can't believe how easy it is for some authorities to find a convenient scapegoat because they are not willing to take any responsibility themselves.
  3. DiabolicScheme
    Drug users aren't dumb I am sure they can answer the questions the way they need to to avoid taking a test in the first place.

    Coming to the conclusion that drugs isn't a problem in this particular group is absurd. They need to test everyone (preferably with as little notice as possible) before coming to that conclusion.
  4. Diverboone
    Sounds to me like the program is a success. If 24% of the applicants who were required to take a drug test didn’t and did not continue in the application process. I'm not familiar with Utah and there welfare programs, but I'm quite sure if 1/4 of the applicants drop out before they finish the process. That has to equal a huge savings.

    I'm a member of the ACLU and do not agree with them on this issue. There is not 4th Amend. violation. If help/assist is being sought then there is a lesser expectation of privacy. The same as when asking a bank for a loan, they want private issues and private financial information.

    I'm a firm believer in what Joe Blow does with his own time and his own money his his business. But if Joe Blow applies for welfare, food stamps or another assistance supported by taxes, then Joe Blow should be held as accountable for his actions as I am mine. I've been drug tested by my employer twice in the last month. If I'm required to pass these test to retain my job, then Joe Blow should have to pass the same test to receive assistance supported by the taxes I pay in.

    I'm just a poor old country boy trying to make a living. When you sum up the 3 Federal taxes (OASDI, Medicare, Federal Income Tax) withheld from my pay every month, it's just shy of $1,000. To me this is an astronomical figure, I could not imagine how it is for those with well paying jobs.

    Work place drug testing is in all reality counter productive. Oh I've heard the quotes pertaining to how much work place drug use cost companies in lost production. All one has to do is look at how those figures are derived. My personal thoughts are it's a program that has been pushed by the drug test manufactures and labs. It's also a tactic to limit liability, with out respect to whether drug X was the cause of an accident or injury.




  5. prescriptionperil
    Since one could be a raging alcoholic and pass a drug test with flying colors, testing welfare recipients for "drugs" is totally hypocritical. The deleterious effects of alcoholism's monetary and psychological
    impact on society pales compared to cannabis. Due to it's fat solubility, cannabis can be detected by
    urinalysis for thirty days, while common hardcore drugs remain detectable for less than a week. Once again, marijuana users would be penalized for recreational use. The federal goverment's draconian
    and false classification of marijuana as Schedule One must change. Hardcore addicts could painfully
    abstain and be clean in a matter of days.

    Most of those on welfare are single mothers. Stopping the cycle of poverty through job
    training and requiring huge profiteers, such as McDonalds and Walmart, to provide a living wage would be a more sane solution than treating single mothers like criminals.

    Plus, many who qualify for food stamps work two or even more part time, minimum wage jobs.

    More business as usual for the Republicans. TAKE FROM THE POOR AND GIVE TO THE RICH.

    I'm glad the judges deemed this waste of resources to be unconstitutional. Since many welfare recipients are single teenaged mothers, educating (not abstinence education) this demographic (males and females) regarding responsible sex and postponing pregnancy seems crucial.
  6. Diverboone
    [QUOTE[​IMG] prescriptionperil[/QUOTE]

    From your above statement, is it safe to say that you believe it to be alright for someone to receive Gov. assistance and continue to use illegal drugs? I seen first hand food stamps being traded for 50¢ on the dollar to purchase illegal drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, for many years. I'm sure that this continues today. Why should we not hold those asking for help accountable for their actions?

    I'm in full agreement about the use of alcohol and the issues it causes.

    As for the Courts and the 4th Amend, it's just a matter of time till some state writes their drug testing laws to where they will with stand Constitutional challenges.

    My position is if anyone wants to indulge into mind altering substances, that's fine. I really do not care what they do. I do what I like to do myself. But I pay for it myself, just as they should do. If a person/single mom is asking for help to feed the kids, then she dam well does not have the money to be doing illegal drugs, drinking alcohol, or smoking tobacco. It's called being responsible for their own actions.
  7. HarmRedThera
    The single mother may be, as you described, "held accountable for her own actions," but what about her children? The children suffer. That just further contributes to the cycle of poverty. Children are the largest demographic in poverty, and children in poverty are far more likely to remain in poverty. Intensifying the effects of poverty: homelessness, food insecurity, increased participation in underground economies, vulnerability to sex work and exploitation, aren't going to save any state any money, ever. I mean, even if one is so ideologically driven that the suffering of children and others is insubstantial, it still doesn't make economic sense. All of these things end up playing out in other costs.

    Another aspect is that low income drug users don't just happily fade into the background and stop costing money because they are denied welfare benefits. They end up in prison. Their children end up in foster care, typically for the rest of their lives until they then graduate to prison. Medical costs are higher as time and resources are diverted to areas other than preventive or regular healthcare and instead end up with higher acuity medical issues in emergency rooms.

    Finally, I work with homeless, drug-addicted, mentally ill people. Nearly none of the clients I've had have decreased their substance use because they became homeless. Their use intensified because being homeless is very intolerable. Their use was subsidized by illegal methods, many of which exposed them to violence, rape, and disease.

    Last of all, the need for entitlement programs is not accurately portrayed as a fault of the person who needs them. No matter what, our work force is not designed to have 100% employment. Some people can never work, some people have times in which they cannot work, and we all want and enjoy some desired amount of competence in the people who do work. Our society creates a section of the populace that will not be employed at some point in time, and our society does not function when we try to ignore that segment.

    I would say more, but I have work to do.
  8. prescriptionperil
    Harm Red Thera expressed the situation eloquently, diverboone. My daughter's friend's mother was a crackhead, who chose the substance over her thirteen year old daughter who had just been gang raped.
    She asked to move in with me. I provided the right balance of stability and freedom.
    Tee's caseworker stated she never saw a child so comfortable in a home. I treated this child, as my own, thus she was well dressed. Marshalls and TJ Maxx sold discounted designer clothes.
    Tee's psychiatrist reported her to her caseworker concerned she was turning tricks, as she was well
    groomed and well dressed. Since she spent most hours in the family room doing homework or
    chatting on the phone, I was appalled. I do realize that being sexually abused increases the chances of acting out sexually, but all children are not textbook cases. Considering Tee is
    working on her second degree, as a paralegal, I'm proud I broke the cycle of poverty through true
    caring.

    School was mandatory in my house. Prior to living with me this child was couch surfing and truant.
    Sadly, the thugs were never brought to justice considering the DNA evidence showed a vast sperm
    mixture. I'm lily white, she's black. Editorials appeared in the paper stating racism involving her rape.
    If she was a white child you can be certain these thugs would be rotting in prison. My husband was the only dad she'd known, so she'd innocently trusted a gang banger.

    Yes, the children. Lots of children, of all ethnic orgins, go to sleep hungry in America. I do believe food stamps should be allocated for purchasing just nutritious food. Considering America's obesity epidemic I do object to junkfood being purchased on food stamps. My vegan daughter in law stood in line behind someone buying nine bottles of soda on food stamps. Although nutritious food is costly lessons in using circular supermarket sales could lessen the skyrocketing obesity rate among children and adults. Long term, this would reduce the societal costs of skyrocketing rates of Type 2 diabetes,
    hypertension, heart disease, fatty liver, etc. Food stamp statistics show fraud to be a minor factor.

    I'm proud to have broken this cycle of poverty, as Tee's mom was also abandoned.

    Also, I preached safe sex and birth contol to my teens until I was blue in the face.

    Right now, most extreme right wing Republicans sicken me with their temper tantrum antics such as
    shutting off funding for WIC. Common government workers in need of a paycheck suffer, while the fat cats attempt to appeal to its extremist tea pary base. Considering the Congressional approval rating is
    14% percent they have little to lose.

    Diverboone, Hopefully you will never be stricken by an illness leaving you in need of a government safety net.

    Ending the cycle of poverty is the only solution.

    On Tanisha's college graduation picture she inscribed "Thank You for Making This Day Possible."

    By saving a child I more than have done my part. She's family. She introduces me as her mom.

    A bit off topic, but Harm Red Thera reminded me of doing my part to break the cycle of poverty. I was certainly not looking for a third child, but couldn't allow a thirteen year old to live on the
    streets. She never would have made it in a for profit foster home.

    Judges with more power or knowledge than you or I claim this is unconstitutional.

    What a waste of resources in Utah.

    Considering my chronic pain situation, I generally use my i Pad. This makes editing a pain in the ass.
    I apologize.
  9. Diverboone
    You bring out some very good points. I'm sure my opinions may offend some, this is not intended. I can see where these programs of assistance can be an extreme help to some that find their self in need. But I question if these programs are really successful in helping people get back on their feet. I know people who have received Food Stamps for their entire life. At what point does this assistance become support?
  10. Diverboone
    [QUOTE=

    Diverboone, Hopefully you will never be stricken by an illness leaving you in need of a government safety net.

    Ending the cycle of poverty is the only solution.

    On Tanisha's college graduation picture she inscribed "Thank You for Making This Day Possible."

    By saving a child I more than have done my part. She's family. She introduces me as her mom.



    Judges with more power or knowledge than you or I claim this is unconstitutional.

    What a waste of resources in Utah.

    Considering my chronic pain situation, I generally use my i Pad. This makes editing a pain in the ass.
    I apologize.[/QUOTE]

    I too, have raised and put a child through High School that was not related to me. I'm proud to say that I did not then, nor have I ever asked the Government for assistance. And I too hope that I never be stricken with an illness and require assistance. I'm quite sure that they would never pay me what I have paid them for years.
    If a day ever comes that I do require assistance, passing a drug test would be of no concern to me. That costly habit would have been eliminated long before I came to ask. I have no respect for anyone who would place their drug use and funding before the needs of there kids. It's from a situation such as this that led to me taking custody and raising a teen that was not related to me.

    "Judges with more power or knowledge than you or I claim this is unconstitutional."
    The actual testing is not unconstitutional. For the most part it the method and randomness of the test and other wording of the laws that has rendered them unconstitutional. It's just a matter of time till one of these laws withstand Constitutional challenges all the way to the SCOTUS.
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