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Politics, Economics, and Justice: The Case of Drug Testing and Welfare Open Access

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Forty-four states have considered legislation in the last six years that would test some portion of their welfare populations for drug use. This number compares to just ten states that proposed testing-related legislation immediately following passage of the 1996 law that gave states the authority to test welfare recipients for drug use. In the last 16 years, legislators have considered four rationales for imposing drug testing on welfare recipients -- workplace readiness, budget concerns, justice for taxpayers, and bettering the lives of families on welfare by providing treatment for drug users and assuring that financial aid for children was not diverted to drug purchase. This project illustrates that none of these rationales holds up following closer examination, yet several states have enacted drug-testing legislation in the last two years.

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