AR Probation Agency To Change Policy In Drug-Testing Dispute


The Arkansas agency that supervises probationers and parolees would no longer use drug testing as the basis for substance abuse treatment or counseling under a proposed rule change, reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The proposal comes amid a dispute between the Arkansas Department of Community Correction and a federal agency over whether the department is required to have a federal certification to perform drug testing on its 49, 000 probationers and parolees.

Testing performed solely for law-enforcement purposes is exempt, and the Community Correction Department contends that its testing falls under that exemption. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says the department's testing requires certification because it is sometimes followed by counseling and treatment. Community Correction spokesman Rhonda Sharp said the change would bring the policy in line with the agency's current practices. She acknowledged that the department provides substance-abuse counseling, but she said testing is performed only to enforce court orders, not as the basis for counseling or treatment.


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