• LAC Director in the NYT:  Drug Testing of Aid Recipients Is Not the Answer

    October 17, 2011

    Many of you have seen the New York Times article published last week on the wave of states requiring drug testing of aid recipients. (Follow this link to see our advocacy work on this issue.)

    In a letter published in The Times over the weekend, LAC's director, Paul N. Samuels, explains why these policies are both wrong-headed and short-sighted:

    Suspicionless drug testing of recipients of public benefits is an ineffective policy that unnecessarily burdens taxpayers. Not only is testing costly and prone to returning false positives, but it also doesn’t address drug dependence or its underlying issues.

    The vast majority of testing legislation also fails to allocate money for treatment, even though it is an extremely efficient use of taxpayer money because it puts people on track to employment, so they no longer need public assistance.

    On the other hand, 40 states plus the District of Columbia allow even those with drug felony convictions to receive public assistance so long as they are in treatment or otherwise in court compliance — and rightly so.

    In addition to harming families, and especially children, denying the most basic assistance actually increases recidivism rates by creating dire need, perpetuating the stigma of addiction and pushing people further away from social services aimed at alleviating the problem.

    Addiction is a disease, and as with diabetes and heart disease, driving people away from treatment is never the answer.

    PAUL N. SAMUELS
    Director and President
    Legal Action Center
    New York

    Read the original article here.