News Release ~ 12/15/1995

Clinton Plan to Force Drug Tests on Everyone Arrested is 'Orwellian,' Criminal Defense Bar Declares

Washington, DC, December 15, 1995 -- "Forced drug testing of every citizen who's arrested raises troubling Fourth Amendment questions, and it's a blatant violation of the Eighth Amendment," declared Robert Fogelnest, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), today in response to President Clinton's announcement that he will order drug testing as a condition of bail for all federal arrestees.

"If you're arrested, you're presumed innocent, and the Eighth Amendment says you have a right to be freed pending trial. The only exceptions are if a judge finds that a person is dangerous or might not show up for trial," Fogelnest explained.

"U.S. Attorneys have no right to make your willingness to take a drug test a condition of release or an issue at a bail hearing. Under our Constitution, that's not a permissible reason for a judge to keep citizens in jail. There's no room in American law for prolonging detention as a 'penalty' for not taking a drug test. It's Orwellian; next, they'll want to stop us all on the street and order us to urinate into bottles," Fogelnest added. "What has become of the notion of freedom in our American democracy?"

President Clinton is expected to sign an executive order Monday directing Attorney General Reno to order the drug tests.

"The President, I'm sad to say, must have Bosnia on his brain," Fogelnest commented. "I suspect this is a reaction to some staffer reminding him that he hasn't renewed his "war on drugs" credentials lately."

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 10,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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