The proposed legislation on mandatory drug testing on all prisoners, probationers, and individuals who are under the influence of illegal drugs can be subject to attack on its constitutionality on grounds of its possible violation of a person’s right to privacy. As the Supreme Court held in the case of Social Justice Society versus Dangerous Drugs Board and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), mandatory drug testing, to be constitutional, must adhere to the principles of “randomness” and “suspicionless”. A discussion of its constitutionality, as well as their respective moral/logical justification, will be made one by one.
I. PROBATIONERS AND PAROLEES
Probationers and parolees are inmates who were qualified for released after compliance with their respective conditions. They are outside of prison walls and therefore back to the community where they belong and therefore once again open to temptations from former peers. However, their release is subject to a suspensive condition; to become a valuable member of the community, to engage in a productive livelihood and to not to be a menace to the community. Since these persons are still under the jurisdiction of their respective officers, it is imperative upon the our judicial system and our State to see to it that these individuals’ health are being monitored, in the same vain that their well-being, in aspects of psychological, physical, mental as well as spiritual, are restored and sustained. Furthermore, subjecting them to mandatory drug testing is, in effect, monitoring the presence of illegal drugs within our State penitentiaries. It is therefore logical to submit themselves on constant drug testing to be able to continuously monitor their status as a member of the community. Random drug testing is therefore recommended onto these persons.
To pass the constitutionality of the proposed legislation, the operative concepts of “randomness” and “suspicionless” in mandatory drug testing must be met. Random testing is performed on an unannounced, unpredictable basis on probationers and parolees whose identity has been placed from the pool of probationers and parolees under their respective jurisdictions which are to be randomly selected so everyone has an equal chance of being selected for testing. Suspicionless, on one hand, suggests that they are to be tested not by reason of having seen, reported, or has a previous record of illegal drugs use. These individuals are to be tested to ensure that they are in full compliance of the conditions of their release; to be a valuable member of the community, to name a few. Parolees and probationers’ right to privacy is certainly diminished, but is not eliminated. From the signing of an agreement to abide by the conditions of their probation, probationers and parolees must certainly be aware that the standards to which they will be held extend beyond the controls of the ordinary citizen. These individuals convicted of a crime, whether on probation or parole, do not retain the privacy rights enjoyed by the average citizen, as they are under the continuous supervision by the government to see to it they are in full compliance with the conditions of their release. Having met the above-sited conditions, subjecting these individuals for mandatory drug testing is therefore CONSTITUTIONAL.
Drugs in prisons, as it may not be amiss to state its rampant sale or trafficking inside the prison walls, in addition to the direct damage they cause to a prisoner, create risks to the safety of prisoners because of violence, self-harm, overdose and debt. More generally drugs destabilize the prison environment, with inherent risks to those working in and visiting prisons. They also severely hamper efforts to rehabilitate prisoners, many of whom have a history of drug misuse and associated offending in the community. In that context there are clear government commitments to reduce the...
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