The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma released the following statement in response to the Oklahoma State Senate’s passage of House Bill 2388, authorizing drug test for applicants of TANF upon a finding of reasonable cause. The original version of the bill would have required ALL TANF applicants to submit to a drug test and would have required the applicant to pay for the drug test.
April 26, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director, ACLU of OK, 405.524.8511, email@example.com
“We are pleased the Oklahoma Senate has learned the lessons of other states who sought to impose suspicionless drug tests on all applicants for temporary assistance. Those states failed to realize the savings proponents of these laws promise, and the ACLU has successfully challenged such laws in Federal Court as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. However, with the Senate’s amendments to HB 2388, the thousands of Oklahoma families that find themselves on hard times in a depressed economy will be spared the further indignity of choosing between their Constitutional Rights and putting food on the table.”
“That said, HB 2388 still requires a screening program and testing if officials find reasonable suspicion of drug use, which begs the question of why this is necessary at all. TANF applicants in other states have tested positive for drugs at a lower rate than the general population, yet some politicians seem hell bent on exploiting the stereotype that just because you’re poor, you are more likely to be on drugs. Legislators would have a far greater impact on our state’s budget and our overall health and safety if they focused less on targeting poor Oklahomans for drug testing and more on increasing funding for substance abuse treatment programs for all Oklahomans.”
Quotes are attributable to Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma