Stereotypes, Myths, and Criminalizing Policies: Regulating the Lives of Poor Women
This new statement by the Women’s Health & Justice Initiative condemns the irresponsible and demeaning use of drug testing to police the lives of welfare recipients. We urge you to use the statement, and credit us, when addressing these intersecting issues, even if your political work is not centered around low-income women or women of color.
The issues and analysis we lay out have implications for the many areas of work we do-from criminalization and policing to economic justice to housing justice and reform and so many more. For more information, please visit us at www.whji.org.
Photo: WHJI organizing, courtsey of WHJI.
Women’s Health & Justice Initiative
- On January 25, 2011 U.S. Senator David Vitter, R-Louisiana, introduced The Drug Free Families Act of 2011, (S. 83), which would require all 50 states to drug test all TANF applicants and recipients.
- On May 10, 2011, Missouri state legislature passed Senate Bill 607, which require welfare applicants and recipients to pass a drug test in order to receive public assistance, if ‘reasonable suspicion’ is raised by a social worker; and on July 12, 2011, Democratic Governor Jay Nixon signed the bill into law
- On May 31, 2011, Governor Rick Scott, R- Florida, signed legislation into law requiring adults applying for welfare assistance to undergo drug screenings.
- And for the fourth consecutive year, Louisiana State Representative John LaBruzzo aggressively tried to get similar legislation passed before House Bill 7 died in the Senate on June 21, 2011 after winning approval in the House.
- Less than .3% of the population receiving assistance through the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program or FITAP (13,237 people out a population of 4.5 million
- The average public assistance grant being only $189 a month for a family of three, and
- 74% of receipts in the state being children (only 3,656 of the 13,237 recipients are adults)
- Regulate dangerous industries and out-of-control military spending that threaten the social, economic, and environmental health of families and communities;
- Increase the efficacy and availability of social programs designed to improve the living conditions of poor communities
- Support responsible, accessible, and affordable public services and resources that respect the reproductive and economic autonomy of women of color and low-income women;
- Prioritize poor women’s economic and social needs to take care of their families in safe and healthy environments.
Shana griffin (36) is a life-long resident of New Orleans, mother of two, black feminist, researcher, and social justice activist, who has over 16 years experience organizing nationally and locally with low-income communities of color on critical issues pertaining to racial and gender justice; sexual health and reproductive justice; housing affordability; ending gender-based violence; prison abolition; gender and disaster vulnerability; just sustainabilities; education equity; and climate justice.
Shana is co-founder of the Women’s Health & Justice Initiative, where she currently serves as Research & Advocacy Director (volunteer), and is the former Interim Director of the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic she co-founded in 2007. Shana is a member of INCITE! and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Women With A Vision, Inc. and Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative, a local neighborhood-based housing and community development non-profit.