Pubdate: Thu, 20 Nov 2003
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2003 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Author: Jerome Mc Collom
Bookmark: (Higher Education Act)


Now that Republicans in the state Legislature have acted to ban students
convicted of selling drugs from receiving student financial aid, maybe they
should step back and see if this is good policy ("Bill would deny aid to
students who dealt drugs," Nov. 13).

Lawmakers state that those who complete drug rehabilitation are eligible
again, but are effective rehabilitation services provided to allow people to
meet this option? It is much more expensive to just lock up drug offenders
than to rehabilitate them, which reduces recidivism, but we still target
imprisonment mainly as public policy.

A second conviction under this measure can bring an automatic lifetime ban
on receiving state financial aid. Many sellers are 17 or under; should
people be punished for a lifetime for what they do as a stupid kid? Aren't
all of us at 50 wiser than at 19? Should these young people be stuck in a
low-wage job for a lifetime or, even worse, see drug selling as an
attractive alternative again?

State financial aid pays for itself in the long term; it produces productive
citizens. Policy should not be based on emotional feelings of getting back
at wrongdoers but seeing if it is good for society. This ban by state
legislators - a similar ban already exists nationally - is not.

Jerome Mc Collom 

West Milwaukee
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