Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 26, 2012

Drug testing violates the Constitution

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Drug testing of welfare recipients is a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. So says the courts in Michigan. It forces people to prove their innocence, which turns the American way of justice on its head.

Florida tried this and found out that it’s a waste of money. This idea is supported by two myths. The first myth states that somehow it’s easy and awesome to be poor.  The facts state otherwise.

Poor persons suffer higher rates of depression, obesity and oral health issues and are less likely to get preventative screenings to fight disease. They die at an earlier age. Poor children are more likely to develop attention deficit disorder, asthma and obesity-related illnesses. They are less likely to receive the immunizations needed to fight childhood diseases. The second myth states that poor people use drugs at a higher rate than others. There is no study that has ever corroborated this assumption It concerns me that we are endorsing drastic measures that violate people’s dignity, all based on half-truths and urban legends. Instead, let’s help the poor with their real struggles. Let’s extend the child care subsidy so that single parents can go to work (which creates jobs in childcare). Let’s extend bus service to outlying areas of the county so that low-income people have access to jobs. Let’s fix our broken schools so that poor kids can access the best pathway to freedom.

  These are worthwhile efforts. They are based on reality and facts, not mythologies that heap criminal suspicion upon the most vulnerable in our society.  How we treat the poor says a lot about who we are as a community.

Christopher Gudger-Raines