In response to an editorial alleging the ACLU of Oklahoma would oppose any measure mandating drug testing for TANF recipients (Daily Oklahoman, August 11) the ACLU of Oklahoma responded with the following:

The Oklahoman is correct. The ACLU of Oklahoma is closely monitoring the progress of any bill that would require drug testing as a condition for welfare benefits. The proposed policy is scientifically, fiscally and constitutionally unsound.
It is offensive to assume that those receiving benefits use drugs at a higher rate than other individuals. If we are going to drug test TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) applicants, then we need to test every person who receives a benefit from the state — parents of children who receive Medicaid, students who receive educational grants or loans, state legislators and CEOs who receive state tax credits. Random drug testing has proved to be ineffective in identifying drug abusers. A study in Oklahoma found that a questionnaire accurately detected 94 out of 100 drug abusers.
The cost of a drug testing program should also be a deterrent. The average cost of a drug test is about $42 per person, not including the costs administering the test, ensuring confidentiality, and running confirmatory tests to guard against false positives. Many states have halted the program solely on the cost.
Random drug testing is most likely unconstitutional. A considerably high legal standard must be met to implement a policy of suspicionless drug testing. Like other states, our state legislators will fail. If legislators want to deter drug use, then they need to take realistic measures. The millions of dollars spent to implement this policy would better serve Oklahomans by creating and expanding facilities to help those afflicted with addiction.

This Letter to the Editor was published in the August 16th edition of the Oklahoman.

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