It’s bad enough that the prison industry, the prescription drug industry, and of course the private prison industry all have such a stake in the pointless drug war. Now, also with an equal critical mass of power, enter the drug testing industry! Just another reason why this fucking scam of a drug war needs to end yesterday.
The shady people and companies behind the push to expand drug testing.
The annual Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) conference, held in 2012 in San Antonio, Texas, looks like any other industry gathering. The 600 or so attendees sip their complimentary Starbucks coffee, munch on small plates of muffins and fresh fruit, and backslap old acquaintances as they file into a sprawling Marriott hotel conference hall. They will hear a keynote address by Robert DuPont, who served as drug policy director under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Nothing odd about any of this until you consider that the main subject of the conference is urine.
Seventy-seven years old, DuPont adopts the air of a sprightly televangelist as he outlines what he calls “the new battle lines” in the war on drugs, one that “begins with kids.” At the climax of his speech, DuPont offers “the new paradigm” of drug treatment: a program that one controversial Hawaiian judge administers to all drug-addicted probationers he oversees. “If they test positive,” he says, his voice slowly rising into a high-pitched yell, “they go to jail that day! No discussion!… No discretion! To jail that day!”
As DuPont finishes his speech, the hundreds of drug-testing company representatives in the audience rise to give him a standing ovation.
DuPont is in an expansive mood following his speech. Since the 1980s, he has been in the business of selling drug-testing services to employers. As far as he’s concerned, drug tests should be given to “anybody who receives a benefit,” from unemployment insurance to welfare. “Test ‘em all!” he exclaims.
This may sound overzealous, but Republican lawmakers around the country are already enthusiastically embracing the idea of making clean urine a condition of receiving public benefits. Since 2011, seven states have passed laws mandating drug tests for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants and recipients, and in 2012 at least twenty-five other states considered proposals to tie welfare cash assistance, and in some cases also food stamps, to drug tests. In February 2012, Congress passed a law paving the way for states to urine-test the recipients of unemployment benefits seeking work in sectors where such screenings are required. Since then, sixteen states have considered laws tying unemployment insurance benefits to drug tests.