Forced Drug Testing

Forced Drug Testing
University Of Phoenix

There has been much debate over the effectiveness of Pretrial drug testing and programs over the years. In the late 90s a directive was enacted by president Bill Clinton to implement a policy that all individuals with felony charges would undergo mandatory drug testing before they could be eligible for release or trial. (Gist, 1999). The reasoning behind this policy was to be able to predict, monitor and control the many individuals who were sent through the system on a regular basis. The goal was to eliminate the reasons that cause an individual to flee after posting bail and skipping his or her court date and reduce the instances of pre-trial misconduct. These programs can be an effective method of predicting and preventing pretrial misconduct as long as the case warrants it and justice is carried out fairly. Drug testing is an effective way to gather information that will support other factors to gain insight into the possibility of whether a person may flee or not. Individuals arrested on felony charges dealing with drugs. (e.g. Use, distribution, transport) Should be drug tested since their state is directly tied to the crime. Additionally, drug dependence results in an altered state in which a person may not think clearly.
However, not all individuals arrested should be forced to take a drug test due to the fact that at present there is no definitive correlation between drug use and pretrial misconduct. Additionally, the drug testing is very expensive which begs the question of whether or not its use can be justified. Studies have concluded that the drug testing policy has overall produced inconsistent and inconclusive results compared to the intent of the program. (Harold & Kleiman 2000) Overall, there is no verifiable evidence that indicates that drug testing is an effective method of reducing failure to appear rates or pretrial crime.
Pretrial programs have been effective in assuring that a person will appear for his or her trial and has been shown to deter pretrial crime. Only defendants that are not deemed serious offenders or a danger to society may participate in pretrial programs. Representatives of the pretrial program keep in contact with the individual to make sure he or she understands where and when to appear for court and the charges they are facing. Pretrial programs work under the assumption that few defendants with community ties will flee after being released on bail. However, this can not apply to all defendants. Other considerations such as criminal and employment history must be taken into consideration. (Goldkamp, Gottfredson & Weiland, 1990)
Overall, Pretrial drug testing programs are ineffective, not because the premise does not work but due to the fact that all individuals with felony charges do not behave the same nor commit the same types of crimes. The program tends to generalize, when there are so many factors that are overlooked such as criminal record, types of crimes committed and occurrences of recidivism. If pretrial drug testing is to be effective it must be used in conjunction with pretrial programs to elicit the most effective response. Combining the two could deter criminals from becoming repeat offenders, provide rehabilitation for drug problems and keep potentially dangerous individuals off the streets where they may commit pre-trial crimes.
To recapitulate, both pretrial programs and pretrial drug testing are effective in resolving many of the drug related issues we face in our criminal justice system. The key however is they must both be used in conjunction for maximum effectiveness. Pretrial drug testing should only apply to those who have been arrested for drug related crimes. Pretrial programs become more effective when used in conjunction with other policies such as pretrial drug testing to make sure that those individuals who are released on bail do not pose a threat to society or attempt to evade prosecution for their crimes.


Goldkamp, J., Gottfredson, M., & Weiland, D. (1990, Fall). Pretrial drug testing and defendant risk. Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 81(3), 585.
Gist, N. Director, U.S. Department of Justice (July 1999). Pretrial Drug Testing: An Overview
of Issues and Practices. Internet Source:
Harrell, A. & Kleiman M. (September 2000). Drug Testing In Criminal Justice Settings. Article. Internet Source: