The Front Porch: Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

Jun 12, 2015

Polling suggests drug testing of welfare recipients is supported by a large majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

Should we require drug tests for recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program?

A bill proposed by the West Virginia Legislature would have done just that, as part of a pilot program. It failed to pass, but is sure to come up in next year's regular session.

Other states have passed similar measures. Many have faced constitutional challenges that have limited their scope. Others spend millions to find only a tiny number of welfare recipients test positive for illegal drugs.

On the other hand, there's some anecdotal evidence that drug users have decided not to apply for TANF benefits because of the possibility of drug testing.

On "The Front Porch" we debate why drug testing of welfare recipients is so popular among voters in West Virginia, and whether the intent is to help people or punish them.

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An edited version of “The Front Porch” airs Fridays at 4:50 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s radio network, and the full version is available above.

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