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Missouri Welfare Drug Test Bill Heads for Governor's Desk

A Missouri bill that mandates the drug testing of welfare recipients and applicants if case workers have "reasonable suspicion" they are using illegal drugs has passed out of the legislature and is now headed for the governor's desk. It passed the House Tuesday on a vote of 113-34. It had passed the Senate last month.

If you're on welfare in Missouri and the state suspects you use drugs, you will have to provide this. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
The bill, House Bill 73, also known as the "TANF Child Protection and Drug Free Home Act," requires Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) case managers to report to the Children's Division if an applicant or recipient tested positive or refused to take a drug test related to employment or employment training. Caseworkers would also have to report to the division if they have "reasonable suspicion to believe that such individual is engaging in illegal use of a controlled substance."

Failure to take or pass a drug test would make the recipient ineligible for TANF benefits for two years. But people who fail the test could enroll in a drug treatment program, and benefits would continue during treatment. If the person completes treatment and doesn't test positive, the benefits would continue. A second positive drug test would make the person ineligible for benefits for two years, with no provision for a treatment escape clause. Family members of someone declared ineligible because of drug use could continue to receive benefits through a third-party payee.

Foes of the bill argued that the bill was possibly unconstitutional -- although its use of a "reasonable suspicion" standard may make that argument more difficult -- that the program will be costly, and that it's an attack on society's most vulnerable.

The bill "targets low-income individuals, particularly women with children, said Pat Dougherty of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. "We have women who come to our program and who are successful, who are getting their lives back together, who are trying to get straight, and yet, you've got a penalty there," he told KMOX News Radio last month.

Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal (D-St. Louis County) said she was concerned about the costs connected with the drug tests. Legislative analysts in Missouri estimated the program would cost up to $2.3 million.

"In Florida, they did about 9,000 tests and spent more than $3 million, while only 36 people were convicted," Chapelle-Nadal said.

But now, the Show Me State's Republicans get to look tough if not necessarily fiscally smart.

Columbia, MO
United States

Mexico's Orphans Are Casualties of Drug Prohibition War

Location: 
Mexico
"At least 12,000 children have lost one or both of their parents," said Gustavo de la Rosa, an official from Mexico's human rights commission. Those motherless and fatherless children, said de la Rosa, are a lasting and tragic legacy of Mexico's drug prohibition war. After witnessing the execution of a parent, the children -- even if physically uninjured themselves -- face a lifetime of emotional scarring.
Publication/Source: 
Agence France-Presse (France)
URL: 
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jCtIvBVbEyDDJeQlCQjavLmwlXWA?docId=CNG.ce4ce7a67bd66d9150ddc80ebf588abb.1e1

230,000 Displaced by Mexico Drug Prohibition War, Half May Have Come to the United States

Location: 
Mexico
A new study by the Swiss-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center that at least 230,000 people have been displaced in Mexico because of drug prohibition violence and that about half of them may have taken refuge in the United States.
Publication/Source: 
Fox News (US)
URL: 
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/03/25/report-230000-displaced-mexico-drug-war-1121351146/

John Stossel: End the Drug War, Save Black America (Opinion)

John Stossel discusses issues related to the devastating impact the war on drugs has on the black community.
Publication/Source: 
Fox News (US)
URL: 
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/03/16/john-stossel-end-drug-war-save-black-america/

Acapulco’s Taxi Drivers Being Murdered in Drug Prohibition War

Location: 
Acapulco, GRO
Mexico
In the last few weeks, more than a dozen taxi drivers and passengers have been murdered in the resort city of Acapulco. A 2008 survey reported that 120 of the 200 taxi drivers in the city of Chetumal, Mexcio, reported to have been threatened with violence against their families if they refused to deliver drugs on behalf of the local drug trafficking organization.
Publication/Source: 
Examiner.com (CO)
URL: 
http://www.examiner.com/drug-cartel-in-national/acapulco-s-taxi-drivers-being-murdered-drug-war

Mexico's Drug Prohibition War Disappearances Leave Families in Anguish

Location: 
Mexico
Thousands of people have vanished without a trace – some caught up in prohibition violence, others for no reason anyone can fathom. Relatives remain in agonized limbo. The disappearances are a disturbing echo of a tactic employed by dictatorships in the so-called dirty wars that plagued parts of Latin America in the last half of the 20th century.
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times (CA)
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico-disappeared-20110307,0,3152675.story

Over 2,000 Streets Closed in Mexican Border City for Security Due to Drug Prohibition Violence

Location: 
Ciudad Juárez, CHH
Mexico
Residents have closed more than 2,000 streets in Ciudad Juarez, the city in Mexico most affected by drug prohibition violence. About 200 families have been wiped out in 10 zones heavily affected by the drug prohibition war.
Publication/Source: 
Latin America Herald Tribune (Venezuela)
URL: 
http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=388515&CategoryId=14091

Entire Villages Flee As Colombia Drug Trafficking Organizations Move In

Location: 
Colombia
Drug prohibition violence is growing across Colombia, and has reached particularly alarming levels in Cordoba. This latest incarnation of drug trafficking organizations has emerged following the demobilization of paramilitary soldiers. Between 2003 and 2006, after striking a peace deal with the government, more than 32,000 fighters belonging to the paramilitary group called the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) put down arms. But many mid-ranking paramilitary commanders slipped back into drug trafficking, starting up new organizations and recruiting ex-AUC fighters.
Publication/Source: 
GlobalPost (MA)
URL: 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/18/colombia-drug-gangs-overt_n_825188.html

Drug Trafficking Organizations Also Involved in Sex Trade, Expert Says

Location: 
Mexico
The head of a company that provides security for American citizens traveling in Mexico says powerful drug trafficking organizations are branching out into the $40-billion-a-year sex trafficking industry. They kidnap children and young people, demand ransom, but in many cases never return the victims, according to Brad Barker with Halo Security. He said a family might pay $100,000 ransom, but the kidnap victim can be worth much more in the sex market. "This person can be held in captivity, they can be filmed doing sex acts, they can be sold on the Internet throughout the world and make 10 times that amount of money. So why would they return the person to their family?"
Publication/Source: 
KTAR (AZ)
URL: 
http://ktar.com/category/local-news-articles/20110217/Expert:-Drug-cartels-also-involved-in-sex-trafficking/

Mexico's Refugees: A Hidden Cost of the Prohibitionist War on Drugs

Location: 
Mexico
President Felipe Calderon's four-year-old army-led campaign against drug trafficking organizations created by prohibition has shaken up the balance of power in Mexico's criminal underworld and sparked a wave of turf wars, sometimes trapping civilians in their midst. With more than 34,000 drug prohibition killings in the past four years, Calderon is coming under increasing pressure to help states burdened by drug war refugees.
Publication/Source: 
Reuters
URL: 
http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCATRE71H0EQ20110218

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