Urine Trouble: Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Fails in N.C., Just Like Everywhere Else | News | Indy Week
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Urine Trouble: Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Fails in N.C., Just Like Everywhere Else

Posted by on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 9:27 AM

imgres.jpg
North Carolina’s drug testing of welfare recipients has started, and surprise, surprise: the early numbers show that, like in other states that are drug testing welfare recipients, it’s a complete waste of time and money.

The drug-testing provision for the Work First program, passed by the General Assembly in 2013 over Governor Pat McCrory’s veto, requires that beneficiaries who have a felony drug charge within the last three years or who are suspected of using drugs during a screening test are required to pass a drug test in order to keep receiving benefits.

WRAL reported that, from August (when the program started) to December, around 7,600 people were screened. Out of all of those cases, just 150 people were selected for testing. Out of the 80 people who showed up, just twenty-one people tested positive. As WRAL’s Laura Leslie notes, “Even if all 70 who failed to show up would have tested positive, the total—91—represents about 1 percent of all reviewed Work First cases.”

The Department of Health and Human Services told the INDY that the twenty-one people who tested positive represent 0.3 percent of all the cases that were screened. If you broaden the scope and count the 17,728 households that received some form of “ongoing assistance” in 2014–15, that number goes down to 0.1 percent of all Work First cases. If the intent of this rule was to root out abuse of the welfare system by drug users, it’s been a miserable failure.

For those who did test positive and had children, they were eligible for a reduced payment, from $272 to $236, a loss of $36 that goes toward the welfare of a child. After thirty days, the beneficiary is eligible to reapply for benefits, but has to cover the $55 testing fee.

Although the test examines urine for various drugs, the only one that usually stays in someone’s system for over a week is marijuana, a drug that has been legalized in Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Washington, and Washington, D.C., and is permissible for medical use in nineteen others. Cocaine, a more potent and expensive drug favored by the wealthy, stops showing up in urine tests after three days. 

“These numbers show once again that people seeking temporary assistance to support their families are no more likely to use drugs than the general public,” says ACLU of North Carolina’s communications director Mike Meno. “Laws that single out and stigmatize vulnerable people with invasive and constitutionally suspect drug tests are nothing more than a mean-spirited waste of taxpayer dollars.”

So far the program has cost the state $4,895. The DHSS told the INDY that there is no current projection for 2016 in place.

The explicit goal of this law was, as state Representative Dean Arp put it in 2013, to “end a bad practice of supporting drug abusers with the hard-earned money of law-abiding North Carolinians.” But as Governor McCrory said after vetoing it, “Similar efforts in other states have proved to be expensive for taxpayers and did little to actually help fight drug addiction.”

Looks like he was right. 

Tags: , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

Transgender students who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria deserve to have their medical privacy intact.

by Dee Omally on Wake County Sheriff: Parents Should Be Notified When a Transgender Student Uses the Bathroom, Like Head Lice (News)

Donnie Harrison does not respond kindly. It's because he is not a kind man. Many people know this.He knows it …

by Chris Weedy on Wake County Sheriff: Parents Should Be Notified When a Transgender Student Uses the Bathroom, Like Head Lice (News)

A consistent policy is a good thing. School systems should consider using the South Park method of three restrooms: "Boys", …

by Charleigh Honeycutt on Wake County Sheriff: Parents Should Be Notified When a Transgender Student Uses the Bathroom, Like Head Lice (News)

Maybe we should move to down under and start biting there, so when he scratch himself there, he remembers his …

by Cheyenne 1 on Wake County Sheriff: Parents Should Be Notified When a Transgender Student Uses the Bathroom, Like Head Lice (News)

Comments

Transgender students who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria deserve to have their medical privacy intact.

by Dee Omally on Wake County Sheriff: Parents Should Be Notified When a Transgender Student Uses the Bathroom, Like Head Lice (News)

Donnie Harrison does not respond kindly. It's because he is not a kind man. Many people know this.He knows it …

by Chris Weedy on Wake County Sheriff: Parents Should Be Notified When a Transgender Student Uses the Bathroom, Like Head Lice (News)

Most Read

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation