ACLU Finds No Savings in Florida’s New Welfare Drug Testing

Despite promises that it would save money and deter drug users, a Florida law requiring drug tests for people applying for welfare resulted in no direct savings, snared few drug users and had no effect on the number of applications, reports the New York Times. “Many states are considering following Florida's example, and the new data from the state shows they shouldn't,” said Derek Newton, communications director for the ACLU of Florida, which sued the state last year to stop the testing. “Not only is it unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy, but it doesn't save money, as was proposed.”

This week, Georgia instituted a nearly identical law, with supporters saying it would foster greater personal responsibility and save money. As in Florida, the law is expected to draw a legal challenge. A number of other states are considering similar bills. From July through October in Florida, 2.6 percent of the state's cash assistance applicants failed the drug test, or 108 of 4,086, according to the figures from the state obtained by the ACLU. The most common reason was marijuana use. An additional 40 people canceled the tests without taking them.

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