Drug testing welfare recipients

The piece noted that in Arizona, for example, between andoverpeople seeking benefits were subjected to drug screen.

Drug testing welfare recipients

Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients You asked whether 1 any states had instituted random drug testing of welfare recipients, and 2 such testing would be constitutional. As you know, the Office of Legislative Research is not authorized to give legal opinions and this report should not be considered one.

But in South Carolina passed legislation that would require AFDC recipients who have a substance abuse problem or a drug- or alcohol-related conviction to participate in a treatment program and random drug tests as a condition of eligibility for benefits.

The state is waiting for the federal government to approve its request for an AFDC waiver to implement the program. We found Drug testing welfare recipients cases that specifically examine the constitutionality of testing benefit recipients for drug use.

But it appears from cases that examine drug testing in other contexts that a statute requiring benefit recipients to be tested could be challenged under the Fourth Amendment to the U.

In general, a governmental search for law enforcement purposes must be preceded by a warrant based on probable cause, or individualized suspicion of wrongdoing. But, where a search serves special government needs beyond law enforcement, the courts balance the individual's privacy interests against the government's interests promoted by the search to determine whether it is impracticable to require a warrant or individualized suspicion of wrongdoing.

In two cases inthe U. Supreme Court respectively upheld as constitutional the drug testing of 1 Customs Service employees who applied for promotions to positions involving interdiction of illegal drugs or requiring them to Drug testing welfare recipients firearms, and 2 railroad employees after major train accidents and safety rule violations.

Drug testing welfare recipients

In both cases, the Court concluded that the testing was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment even though it was not preceded by a warrant or a reasonable suspicion of a particular employee's impairment, since compelling governmental interests served by the testing requirements outweigh the employees' privacy concerns.

The Court observed in both cases that the employees have a diminished expectation of privacy compared to the general population, because the special nature of their jobs should lead them to expect effective inquiry concerning their physical and mental capabilities.

And, in both cases the Court concluded that the government had substantial interests that weighed in favor of warrantless and suspicionless tests.

In the Customs case, the Court stated that in light of evidence of a national crisis in law enforcement caused by drug smuggling, the government has a compelling interest in ensuring that front-line interdiction personnel are physically fit and of unimpeachable integrity.

Also, the government has a compelling interest in protecting the public from the risks posed by the potential use of deadly force by persons impaired by drug use. In the railroad case, the Court underscored the government's public safety interest, observing that a drug-impaired railroad employee can cause great human loss before any signs of impairment become noticeable and that testing deters drug use by putting employees on notice that they are likely to be discovered if an accident occurs.

Inthe Court held constitutional the random drug testing of public school students who participate in interscholastic athletics.

Central to its holding, according to the Court, was the fact that the subjects of the testing were children who had been committed to the temporary custody of the state as schoolmaster. In determining that the balance of privacy and governmental interests weighed in favor of the constitutionality of the testing, the Court observed that school children, and student athletes in particular, have a diminished expectation of privacy because they already are subject to physical examination, vaccination, and conduct requirements.

The government, on the other hand, has a substantial interest in deterring drug use by children, that is further magnified by its special responsibility of care in the school setting.

According to the Court, this interest is heightened with respect to student athletes, where the risk of physical harm to the drug user and other players is particularly great.

*Correction appended. In the past eight years, Texas lawmakers have tried nearly a dozen times to pass a law requiring drug screenings or testing for applicants for state welfare benefits. Eleven states have instituted drug testing measures for welfare recipients similar to what Texas lawmakers are proposing. A Florida program was put on hold after a federal court ruled that it. Without a car, working a job (yes, many welfare recipients do have jobs), with kids, and all the other things that one often has to attend to, requiring drug testing is a burden that can further trap someone in a specific life situation.

Whether random drug testing of welfare recipients is constitutional will depend on how the court balances the intrusion on the recipients' privacy interests against the testing's promotion of governmental interests.

In assessing the balance, the court is likely to turn to the school and employment cases as points of comparison, and may find them to be distinguishable from the case at hand.

Due to conditions the government may attach to receipt of benefits, such as availability for employment, welfare recipients may have diminished expectations of privacy compared to the general population.

But a court may find that their privacy expectations are not as diminished as those of railroad or Customs employees, who because of the safety and security aspects of their employment should expect careful scrutiny of their physical and mental health.

And a court may find that their expectations are not diminished as those of public school children and student athletes, who already are subject to conduct and physical examination requirements, and in the case of student athletes, locker room conditions involving minimal privacy.

Thus, it is possible that a court may conclude that the intrusion on privacy interests caused by drug testing is greater in the welfare context than in the employment and public school contexts already considered by the U. And, it is possible the court may also find that although the government has a substantial interest in deterring drug use among welfare recipients, this deterrence interest is not as substantial as in the previous employment and school cases, where safety and national security concerns and the government's guardianship role make the interest particularly compelling.

In balancing the intrusion on privacy interests against the promotion of governmental interests, the court thus might conclude that unlike in the employment and school cases, the balance weighs in favor of the person being tested, and that such testing is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment.

On the other hand, the court might decide that the government's interest in ensuring the health of the benefit recipients and their children is so substantial as to tip the balance in the direction of a determination that the testing requirement is constitutional.

The remainder of this memo summarizes in more detail the South Carolina legislation, constitutional principles applicable to the issue of random drug testing, and the three U.

Recipients who give birth to a child determined within 24 hours of birth to be suffering from the effects of maternal substance abuse will also be required to submit to drug testing and treatment.

Recipients who refuse to participate in drug testing and treatment will be removed from the AFDC program. At this time, South Carolina is awaiting approval from the federal government on their request for a waiver from federal regulations in order to implement the program.

Under the legislation, case managers will have the responsibility of identifying individuals who are, or are at risk of, becoming chemically dependent, when they apply for benefits. Those identified must undergo an evaluation to determine whether treatment is necessary.

If they are found in need of treatment and do not comply with the requirements of a designated program, they will be ineligible for further benefits. Treatment program fees will be paid by the recipients' Medicaid benefits.

Once the recipients have completed treatment, they must agree to undergo random substance abuse testing. Again, if they do not comply they will be ineligible for further benefits. Recipients who feel the determination of a substance abuse problem or the prescribed treatment is incorrect, or who wish to be reevaluated, may appeal by requesting a fair hearing.

The AFDC program establishes guidelines for the fair hearing process. During the appeal process, recipients will continue to receive benefits. Supreme Court observed in Perry v.In the state of Michigan implemented a program requiring random drug testing for welfare recipients, but that program was halted after a federal court ruled that it violated Fourth Amendment.

A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld a lower federal court ruling that Gov. Rick Scott's crusade to conduct drug tests on welfare recipients as a condition of their benefits was. The Pros and Cons of Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients.

There is quite a bit of controversy out there relating to drug tests for welfare recipients. Mar 02,  · In the great state of Missouri USA we now have drug testing for recipients of State aid.

I'm all for it, if I am required to test clean to make the money that in part funds those receiving benefits, you bet I'm for them doing the same.

INTRODUCTION: There is an ongoing debate on whether drug testing of welfare recipients is legal in many of the local state governments.

The Concordian – Drug testing for welfare recipients: Pro

Welfare is suppose to meet the basic needs and drugs are far from the basic human needs. Beyond Poverty The Myth of Welfare and Drug Use. Testing recipients is about humiliation. That’s why the GOP keeps adding screening laws.

By Jamelle Bouie.

FACT CHECK: Should We Drug Test Welfare Recipients?