Gov. Nathan Deal believes that people who apply for food stamps should be tested for drug use if there is any suspicion that they are abusing illegal substances. Many individuals disagree with Deal’s signing of this law and view it as unconstitutional. These discriminatory acts, that the governor proposes, reveal his view of food stamp recipients.
This group is targeted simply because they are poor, and the word “poor” is associated with much negativity; for example, many believe that the poor steal, kill and use drugs more than any other class of individuals. The truth of the matter is that people abuse drugs no matter what class they belong to in this country. Yet, the poor are more likely to be punished for drug abuse. Therefore, they become targets for anything that society associates with their status, hence this attempt to hinder food stamp recipients.
These recipients may need some assistance from the government simply because they do not have sufficient funds, not to support a drug habit while mooching off of federal funding. Nathan Deal’s law encompasses certain aspects of society’s view of the poor and perpetuates the danger of stereotypes.
Reports in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reiterate the statements of federal officials in regard to Gov. Deal’s decision. Officials stated that Georgia cannot implement a new law requiring drug tests from food stamp applicants and recipients. The implementation of this law, which is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, will be a federal violation. Yet, no action has been made by the governor to repeal this law.
Georgia’s government should also consider the financial burden of this law along with federal concerns. The results of these tests must be recorded in order to accept or decline recipients and applicants.
The law will also have a financial burden on the individuals being screened for drug use.
“The applicant has to pay the cost of the drug test himself, and is not compensated even if the test comes back negative,” according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Determining the individuals that will be tested will also involve a prejudiced process. No individual can effectively judge a person’s usage of a substance based on a glance or interaction.
The only way to eliminate the possibility of prejudice would be to drug test every individual that applies for federal assistance. This idea would not be embraced by officials because it is financially inefficient and time consuming. It would also be a violation of the liberties of individuals in this country.
The question lies in whether or not any entity should be allowed to target a specific group, especially one that is in need. This law should continue to be blocked at all costs.
– Shaunteri Skinner is a junior from Atlanta majoring in digital and broadcast journalism