Federal judge strikes down Florida’s welfare drug testing law

U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven standing in front of a book case and holding a book

U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven

Great news: On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven struck down the Florida law mandating the compulsory drug testing of recipients of cash assistance! The law was truly horrible:

The law took effect in July 2011 and required parents to undergo and pay for urine tests for illegal drugs when they applied for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a federal-state program that helps poor people with children pay for food, shelter and necessities.

The testing fee of $25 to $45 was to be repaid by the state if the test came back negative, but applicants who tested positive would have been barred from receiving benefits for a year.

The law, which had been temporarily halted four months after it took effect after a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, was a huge failure during its short implementation: it was incredibly costly, and only a very small percentage of applicants were tested positive. This is, of course, to say nothing of how morally corrupt such a policy is, founded on the unsubstantiated claim that welfare recipients use drugs at higher rates than the general population. In Tuesday’s ruling, Judge Scriven permanently halted the law’s enforcement, though Florida Governor Rick Scott plans to appeal.

Policies like this one rely on classist, racist, and sexist narratives such as the myth of the “welfare queen.” Good riddance!

1bfea3e7449eff65a94e2e55a8b7acda-bpfullVerónica would like to drug test the legislators who come up with this shit.

New York, NY

Verónica Bayetti Flores has spent the last years of her life living and breathing reproductive justice. She has led national policy and movement building work on the intersections of immigrants' rights, health care access, young parenthood, and LGBTQ liberation, and has worked to increase access to contraception and abortion, fought for paid sick leave, and demanded access to safe public space for queer youth of color. In 2008 Verónica obtained her Master’s degree in the Sexuality and Health program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She loves cooking, making art, listening to music, and thinking about the ways art forms traditionally seen as feminine are valued and devalued. In addition to writing for Feministing, she is currently spending most of her time doing policy work to reduce the harms of LGBTQ youth of color's interactions with the police and making sure abortion care is accessible to all regardless of their income.

Verónica is a queer immigrant writer, activist, and artist.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/aasanford/ Amy

    I hated this law from the beginning. When people are treated like criminals, they will act like criminals. When people are treated with respect, they will respond in kind.