Pubdate: Mon, 14 Jul 2003
Source: Sun Herald (MS)
Copyright: 2003, The Sun Herald
Author: Kimberly Dunaway


Our government denies anyone who has been convicted of a drug offense the 
opportunity to get ahead in life by denying them tuition assistance for 
college. This contradicts the very principle of rehabilitation we claim to 
embrace. If people who have made a mistake wish to pull themselves out of 
the ditch by obtaining an education, we should support them.

I do not see that this law provides anything positive to society as a 
whole. If anything, it propagates more criminal behavior. Here are some of 
the reasons we should request and support a change:

. Denial of financial assistance for conviction applies only to 
drug-related offenses - not any other form of crime. Murderers, rapists and 
robbers are not denied financial assistance for college. The vast majority 
of Americans convicted of drug offenses are convicted of non-violent, 
low-level possession.

. The Higher Education Act's drug provision represents a penalty levied 
only on the poor and the working class; wealthier students will not have 
the doors of college closed to them for want of financial aid. It is a form 
of discrimination.

. The HEA drug provision has a disparate impact on different races. 
African-Americans, for example, comprise 13 percent of the population but 
account for more than 55 percent of those convicted of drug possession charges.

. This law violates the 5th Amendment by punishing offenders multiple times 
for the same offense. Access to a college education is the surest route to 
the mainstream economy and a crime-free life. Educated people generally 
make for better, more productive members of society. This benefits everyone!

I urge you to contact your congressman. Request a repeal of the law that 
delays or denies college financial aid to students for drug offenses.

KIMBERLY DUNAWAY Ocean Springs  ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom