Friday, January 6, 2012

Regarding Senator Vitter's Proposal to Drug Test Welfare Recipients


My favorite U.S. Senator, David Vitter, R-LA, recently published an editorial at arguing in favor of random drug testing of federal welfare recipients. While I do not necessarily disagree with the Senator's premise or logic, I do believe that the proposal outlined in the column does not do enough to sufficiently address the monumental waste of taxpayer funds as it pertains to drug addiction.

I most definitely believe that Senator Vitter's heart and mind are in the right place with this proposal. I certainly do not want my tax dollars being used by welfare recipients to purchase illegal drugs.

However, I would like to know what the relative cost would be to put welfare-recipients who are addicted to drugs through treatment versus simply continuing to support their lifestyle? I would be willing to be that the latter actually costs less to the taxpayers.

I believe that any such program should include a provision mandating that anyone arrested for possession of illegal narcotics be sentenced to drug treatment rehabilitation instead of serving time in jail/prison.

The cost of incarcerating non-violent drug offenders far outweighs the cost of their monthly welfare check. If we're serious about reducing wasteful expenditures of tax dollars, let's invest the money currently being used to incarcerate drug addicts into inpatient detox and rehabilitation. This will (by my estimation) more than quadruple the savings as individuals currently incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses could become taxpaying citizens themselves rather than having their entire lives destroyed permanently on the taxpayers' dime.

I'm all for the testing of welfare recipients, but I will reiterate that if the proposal's real intent is to reduce wasteful government spending at both the state and federal level, any such legislation should also seek to reform the criminal justice system in such a way that nonviolent drug offenders receive treatment instead of jail time.

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