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Utah's welfare drug testing saved more than $350,000 in first year, officials say

2012-2013 data shows only 12 tested positive in screenings

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  • DN Subscriber 2 SLC, UT
    Sept. 8, 2013 5:24 p.m.

    "Opponents of the policy say it unfairly stigmatizes poor people."

    Dear "opponents"- the policy withholds rewards from people who are violating other laws.
    If YOU want to voluntarily give YOUR money to a bunch of unrepentant and unreformed druggies, go ahead, but I do not want a penny of my TAX dollars going to them.

    People need to be responsible for their choices, and if you choose to do drugs, you forfeit any claim to public welfare. If you choose to rob banks, you do not get to keep the proceeds. If you walk in middle of the freeway at night in dark clothes you may forfeit your life, but it is not the job of taxpayers to prevent you from doing stupid or illegal stuff.

    And, a drug test that relies on written questions instead of either 100% screening or at least random tests of everyone is a joke to begin with. Military members are ALL (officer and enlisted) subject to random tests at any time, why not welfare recipients?

    Meanwhile, saving $350,000 with an investment of $30,000 sounds like a great investment to me. 100% testing would probably save millions.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Sept. 8, 2013 5:33 p.m.

    Utah ranks fourth in the nation in deaths from prescription drug overdoses, according to the CDC.
    (2011)

    Are there drug treatment and detox programs available for the poor?

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Sept. 8, 2013 8:55 p.m.

    I'm accused of being a rampant liberal, but this is one conservative idea I can fully embrace.

    I just hope that when someone tests positive, they are at least offered treatment.

  • Jan Jones West Valley City, UT
    Sept. 8, 2013 10:17 p.m.

    Drug testing unfairly stigmatizes welfare recipients? "There is this notion that if you're struggling to find employment, it must be because you're using drugs."
    My husband, both my daughters, my son and I ALL had to pass a drug test in order to work at our places of employment. In addition, random drug tests are sometimes given. My husband had to take one about two months ago. Can someone please explain to me why it's okay to have to pass a drug test in order to find and retain employment, but drug testing welfare applicants stigmatizes them? 'Cause I really don't get it.

  • techpubs Sioux City, IA
    Sept. 9, 2013 6:57 a.m.

    Because many employers require you to pass their Drug screening to obtain and hold a job it only seems right to require that welfare recipients also pass the same screening.
    We need to identify them and get them help so that they can pass an employers tests and obtain a position that will help them to remove their family from the welfare rolls.

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 9, 2013 8:21 a.m.

    I grow extremely weary of the poor shaming that goes on in America, and particularly in Utah. For a population that claims to love Jesus Christ so much, I sure feel that he would be disappointed in the failure of our culture to receive his message.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    Sept. 9, 2013 8:43 a.m.

    Schwa, if you think Jesus was in favor of poor people continuing to keep themselves trapped in poverty due to addiction while society continues to fund it, you've got some scripture studying to do.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Sept. 9, 2013 9:26 a.m.

    As soon as they test any and all politicians randomly maybe in between lobbying sessions than this could be acceptable.
    12 people at a cost of 30 thousand dollars?

    "There's no information about why those 250 people failed to meet the requirements, so it's a leap to assume they all had drug issues," Cornia said.

    Arizona officials believed that testing could save the state $1.7 million a year. But in 2012, three years and 87,000 screenings later, only one person had failed a drug test.Total savings from denying that one person benefits? $560. Total benefits paid out in that time? $200 million.
    The trend is…It's a waste of resources that makes some folks feel morally superior and that's about it.
    I would like to see an article on who got the contract for the testing in Utah, pretty sure they'll find relationship to wilson or osmond somehow.

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 9, 2013 2:24 p.m.

    I think that Jesus said that if you want to be next to God you should sell all your worldly possessions and minister to the poor. Never once did I read about Jesus asking someone if they lived a good and virtuous lifestyle BEFORE helping them out. If memory serves, he cohorted with the dredges of society. I tend to think that a lot of people who think they are righteous are really much like the Pharisees of old.

  • The Final Word Alpine, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 11:29 a.m.

    re: Schwa

    Jesus said alot of things. Stop being so selective.

    If I recall correctly He always loved people/sinners but never once was He "accepting" of sin.

    Seems like the Utah program offers drug treatment to help improve the person and lift them out of the mess they are in.

    The problem overall is that govt keeps inserting itself in peoples lives and now we have the pervasive attitude that the govt is supposed to take care of poor people. Many people view it as they no longer "have" to do anything to give service/help people because they pay taxes to the govt to do that.

    We all know the govt does a poor job of administering these benefits meanwhile people stand around and no longer have responsibility to help people in need within their communities.

    Once again the liberal form of forced "help" really has backfired.

    If communities were totally responsible for the poor there would be alot less abuse, the poor who truly are in need would get alot more help, and we would still have more money left over in our pockets by avoiding the govt waste administrating these programs.

    Liberal Democrats say no.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 4:34 p.m.

    "There is this notion that if you're struggling to find employment, it must be because you're using drugs," said Gina Cornia

    So tell us, Gina, why they fail to meet the requirements?

    The money does not belong to them, they do not have an inalienable right to it; it is state charity, and as such, the state has the right to set the requirements, to protect the interests of the taxpayers. You know, those poor schleps who have to FUND everything?

    "Utah's law also doesn't disqualify people who test positive from receiving benefits. Instead, it requires them to enter substance abuse treatment"

    T-seeker and all those who agreed
    see the above paragraph BEFORE asking about detox programs.

    Schwa,
    To the woman take in adultery, He said, "Neither do I condemn thee; go thy way and SIN NO MORE"

    I think those who condemn others as being unchristian because they expect people to try to rise above the natural man ALWAYS forget the last three words He said to her.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 5:19 p.m.

    Of course they did not find a lot of failed tests - those who knew they would fail did not apply for the benefits!

    I wonder why nobody thinks that drug testing of top athletes might possibly "stigmatize" them. Once an athlete reaches a certain level of performance he has to be available for random drug tests - the doping agency needs to know where he is at all times and can randomly show up at his door anytime to collect a sample. If he is not available, it is a reason to consider the test as failed.

  • troyboy1 Danville, KY
    Oct. 14, 2013 10:07 p.m.

    Is this about saving money or helping the poor get off of drugs? It sounds like it is a punishment on people who are already down. And, chances are, that the only people it really hurts are the children of the drug abusers. I say give them the welfare on the spot, while assisting them in treatment. This is one of the most un-Christlike things I've seen out of a "Christian" state. Have some compassion, Utah!

  • Turtles Run Missouri City, TX
    Oct. 14, 2013 11:17 p.m.

    Seems like an odd way to "help" the poor. If children are involved I guess the state and the people on this comment thread are fine with making children suffer for the bad choices of their parents.

    @The Final Word - The reason the federal government has involved itself in providing for the poor is because too many local communities have proven that they are incapable or unwilling to help the needy. Look at states like Utah and Texas that turned down the opportunity to expand access to health care coverage for many that could use such help.

  • Hank Jr Draper, UT
    Oct. 15, 2013 11:44 a.m.

    No dope is no joke!

  • Stop The Nonsense El Paso, TX
    Oct. 15, 2013 3:33 p.m.

    I think this is a great idea and would support this on a national level in a heartbeat. It offers access to programs to help people overcome their addictions, and at the same time stops subsidizing drug use. If a drug user has limited funds to begin with, he/she has less money available to buy drugs. Give that person food stamps, and all of a sudden the money that used to go towards food can now go towards drugs. How is this a difficult concept?

    I do think it's great that people who fail the initial drug test can re-apply for benefits after a time that allows them to get clean, and that those who test positive while receiving benefits do not immediately lose those benefits, but instead are given the chance to receive help. Sounds to me like repentance is pretty central in this program.

  • Liberal Ted Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 16, 2013 7:40 a.m.

    Drug testing is not a stigma on poor people. Many of the jobs that I have held, required drug testing upon being hired and while I worked there, they required random drug testing on all employees.

    Drug testing is a fact of life in our society. It's a huge liability. And if we can just help one druggie in this effort to turn their life around, then isn't it worth it?

    C'mon liberals and democrats where is the bleeding heart to help the one?

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Oct. 16, 2013 8:24 a.m.

    Turtles -

    100% of drug addicted parents inflict suffering on their children.

    Transferring blame to society only enables the parents to continue to abuse/neglect their children through their addiction.

    Society should not take the role of drug use enabler.

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 2:24 p.m.

    1) I'm skeptical of the state's claims
    2) I grow weary of a nation that treats drug addiction has a crime and not a public health issue
    3) Poor shaming is disgusting. Being poor is not a crime

  • Lorelei Magna, UT
    Aug. 17, 2014 9:48 a.m.

    This is not true. They are try trying to play with the numbers to appear they are saving money when in fact only 12 out of 5000 people tested positive for illegal drug use. Padding the money saved by those who didn't agree to test isn't saving you money. Those people may have moved or found work. This isn't about helping people it is about making money for the drug testing company. It is wrong to test people to see if they deserve food. As for,"I have to drug test why shouldn't you" argument, who do you think this benefits? The taxpayers or the drug company and the lawmakers who help them? It is a money making scam that is wasting tax dollars. Let's see who is really making money here and who is benefiting from lying to the public to continue this farce.

  • seancampmsw Murray, UT
    Aug. 17, 2014 10:15 a.m.

    This article makes a HUGE assumption, that the "250 individuals who stayed away... [and] would have received $350,000 in benefits" all stayed away because they knew they would fail a drug screen. This is completely unverifiable, and a distorted spin to try and make this abysmal failure of a program seem positive. It plays on stereotypes and ignorance of those commenters above who refuse to abandon their individual ideologies that support their "I'm better than they are" mentality, and politicians who need talking points to pander. Why is poverty so frightening to those who "have"? Maybe because it necessitates a good long look in the mirror that some just cannot handle. There for the grace of God go I?

  • mcdugall Murray, UT
    Aug. 17, 2014 12:16 p.m.

    Suggesting that this legislation is a success when you only know why ~4% of the "somewhat randomly selected pool" tested positive for drugs and the remaining 96% did not complete the paperwork is simply silly.

  • aelfraed Ft. Worth, TX
    Aug. 5, 2015 7:11 p.m.

    "...cities are reporting a 30 percent spike in violent offenders who are high on synthetic drugs when they commit violent crimes." How do we account for this ? Being druggies, they can not get or hold a job (drug testing/war on drugs); and you know "we've got to get those bums off welfare". What's left for them to do ? It's usually young men, too. Are we to suppose that many more bad people were born so many years ago, "a bumper crop" ? Sometimes, what originates as a political problem ends up being a police problem.