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Ban on college funding for drug convicts

By lonesmurf in MLP
Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 05:22:26 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

An article on Salon prompts this brief article. Apparently on the books there lies a law that says that those with drug convictions shall be denied access to loans for college and other benefits other citizens receive.


The obvious course for someone with no education and a wish to better himself is to go back to school. The bush administration obviously believes otherwise.

Those that have served their time should not be further punished. Isn't this in the constitution?

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Poll
Convicted drug users (not dealers)
o should be allowed funds like any other citizen. 64%
o should NOT be allowed funds like any other citizen. 15%
o are bad, mmkay? 13%
o Inoshiro 6%

Votes: 73
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o An article
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o Also by lonesmurf


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Ban on college funding for drug convicts | 58 comments (52 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hmm... (3.60 / 5) (#2)
by Elendale on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 11:44:55 AM EST

Ok, so lets remove the Grandfather Clause for a second and look at what would happen to half the folks in Washington. Oh, that's right: they'd lose it all :) Well, except those that come from the rich, affluent families because they're above the law. So ok, not much would happen to the folks in Washington. Never mind...

-Elendale
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


lame arguement (2.86 / 15) (#4)
by Seumas on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 11:52:42 AM EST

The arguement I heard lastnight about this was that it will "unfairly effect poor people". I almost laughed myself into a coma. As if we're supposed to make an exception for drug use if you're poor?

What's next, looking the other way on grand-theft-auto if the thief doesn't already own a car?

I'm not certain that I agree with withholding college loans to drug convicts, but there is precedent for banishing people who have "served their time" from experiencing the full range of benefits that the rest of society does. Consider sex offenders who are basically tagged and tracked for the rest of their lifes. Or better, consider many convicts who no longer have the right to vote.

The idea behind a student loan is that it will eventually be repaid. I'm not completely comfortable with just handing over a bunch of loans to someone who has shown deplorable judgement before by wasting away on drugs and dumping every time into their addiction. This would be as rediculous as continuing to throw money at the thiefs and frauds recently caught in the education department.

What you do comes back to haunt you. Your history of being a convicted drug addict should weigh against you as an example of poor decision making and high loan risk just like anyone else with a history of bad judgement (failure to repay loans, overdrawn accounts, etc) counts against the rest of society every time a person applies for a loan.

However, that aside -- and the silly classism that a certain sided political party has been trying to push all week, this seems a little unfair in general. As expensive as an education is -- even at a crappy junior college or a vocational school, a loan is about the only way someone can go. If they're a convicted drug addict, they certainly won't be rolling in money and probably won't have a high-paying job (if they're even employed). I'd certainly rather consider helping them through college (after all, loans DO have to be rapaid -- it isn't like we're giving them a grant) than cutting them off from a future. Do that and they'll be depressed with no options to progress in their lives and they'll be back on the bottle and the drugs in no time, robbing people blind, filling our emergency rooms, draining our public services and putting the general public at risk.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.

This is not justified (3.50 / 2) (#11)
by theR on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 12:51:02 PM EST

Please don't be so self-righteous.

The arguement I heard lastnight about this was that it will "unfairly effect poor people". I almost laughed myself into a coma. As if we're supposed to make an exception for drug use if you're poor?

No, it should not be excused, but it should not be treated differently than drug use by the affluent. A disproportianate number of those convicted of drug use are not white and are poor. And, by definition, a poor person is more likely to need a loan for school than someone that is middle or upper class, so it would effect them more. Although the fairness is debatable, it will effect the poor more than others.

The idea behind a student loan is that it will eventually be repaid. I'm not completely comfortable with just handing over a bunch of loans to someone who has shown deplorable judgement before by wasting away on drugs and dumping every time [I assume you mean dime] into their addiction.

I agree about handing over a bunch of loans to someone who has shown bad judgement, but you're making a lot of assumptions about people that have been convicted of a drug crime. Every person who has convicted is not "wasting away on drugs and dumping every dime into their addiction."

Your history of being a convicted drug addict should weigh against you as an example of poor decision making and high loan risk just like anyone else with a history of bad judgement (failure to repay loans, overdrawn accounts, etc) counts against the rest of society every time a person applies for a loan.

You can not be convicted of being a drug addict. There is no such thing as a "convicted drug addict" in the sense of a "convicted felon" or "convicted thief". Furthermore, you can be a drug addict without breaking any laws, you can use illegal and legal drugs without being an addict, and you can be a drug addict without using drugs.

I agree with the general message of your last paragraph, though. This kind of thing will take away one more option for people who do not always have a lot of options, especially if it is enforced and they end up checking the veracity of replies on the loan applications. Also, if anyone believes that the punishments the US legal system dishes out have any other intent besides punishing the lawbreaker, like rehabilitation, then this should go to show that many in our government and society have little interest in helping those that get into trouble. To me, it looks as if a lot of people would rather just have lawbreakers removed from our society completely, rather than try and help them become productive, or at the least law-abiding.



[ Parent ]
Not all drug users are junkies (3.80 / 5) (#13)
by botono9 on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 12:54:54 PM EST

I'm not completely comfortable with just handing over a bunch of loans to someone who has shown deplorable judgement before by wasting away on drugs and dumping every time into their addiction.
But what if this deplorable junkie happens to have a 4.0 GPA, a clean record otherwise and an excellent credit report? We can't risk loaning them money because they smoke pot, right? They're high risk because they choose to indulge in a drug that happens to be officially looked down upon. They could be getting piss drunk every night of their lives and would not have to live up to the same standard as someone who got caught with a quarter bag of dirt weed. That's ridiculous.

"Guns are real. Blue uniforms are real. Cops are social fiction."
--Robert Anton Wilson
[ Parent ]

it is lame arguement ... (none / 0) (#30)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 02:08:46 PM EST

because it unduly punishes rich people as well as poor.

there is precedent for banishing people who have "served their time" from experiencing the full range of benefits that the rest of society does.

Prior jurisprudence concerning equal protection challenges to criminal conviction is not entirely in favor of that statement.

Consider sex offenders who are basically tagged and tracked for the rest of their lifes.

Because they have been sentenced to a life of parole - a choice between that and a life behind bars, as it were.

Or better, consider many convicts who no longer have the right to vote.

13 states have disenfranchisement laws for convicts that have fully served their sentence, Florida and Texas among them. (Damn if that aint synchronicity.) It's a human rights deficit.

Fun fact: Edwards (black) and Carmen (white) were blocked from the voter rolls because they persuant to Article 182 of the Alabama Constitution which provides

The following persons shall be disqualified both from registering, and from voting, namely: All idiots and insane persons; those who shall by reason of conviction of crime be disqualified from voting at the time of the ratification of this Constitution; those who shall be convicted of treason, murder, arson, embezzlement, malfeasance in office, larceny, receiving stolen property, obtaining property or money under false pretenses, perjury, subornation of perjury, robbery, assault with intent to rob, burglary, forgery, bribery, assault and battery on the wife, bigamy, living in adultery, sodomy, incest, rape, miscegenation, crime against nature, or any crime punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary, or of any infamous crime or crime involving moral turpitude;
Hunter v. Underwood disagreed. Unfortunately, the case as presented forced them to rule on racial considerations rather than on the constitutionality of disenfranchisement laws: "Without deciding whether 182 would be valid if enacted today without any impermissible motivation, we simply observe that its original enactment was motivated by a desire to discriminate against blacks on account of race ..." Oh well, another case for another day.

Your history of being a convicted drug addict should weigh against you as an example of poor decision making and high loan risk just like anyone else with a history of bad judgement

Assuming for the moment that this should be the case when exercising a personal, private decision to discriminate, arent these loans financed by public money?

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

correction (none / 0) (#32)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 02:12:05 PM EST

Fun fact: Edwards (black) and Carmen (white) were blocked from the voter rolls because they bounced a check persuant to Article 182 of the Alabama Constitution which provides ...

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

You have it backwards. (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by jolly st nick on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 10:41:12 PM EST

The arguement I heard lastnight about this was that it will "unfairly effect poor people". I almost laughed myself into a coma. As if we're supposed to make an exception for drug use if you're poor?

It's not so much that poor people should get an exception for drug use, but that affluent kids already do.

Affluent kids are seldom tried for "victimless" crimes such as possesion of small amounts of drugs or even hijinks that otherwise would be called vandalism. Children of respectable middle class people are just valued too highly. They get all the mollycoddling that people decry when it is handed out the less fortunate, and far more. In the one rare case I know of where a white suburban youth was convicted for vandalism he got NO jail time even though he caused well over $100,000 in damages.

I object to this law, not just because it unfairly penalizes poor students, but also because it amplifies the unjust entitlement of the rich ones. Kids who escape the consequences of their own actions also ironically benefit from the elimination of qualified poor applicants from the candidate and financial aid pool.

I'd accept this law as fair (but still unwise) if steps were taken to take affluent kids who did the same things as the poor ones out, say by combing through police records and retroactively prosecuting them. Of course if this were ever attempted the reaction would blow away the political establishment like a house of cards. This would be tantamount to holding the most favored group in society equally responsible for its actions as the least popular. Isn't it scary that the very idea of equality is unthinkable and repugnant?



[ Parent ]

Drug Conviction not necessary (4.90 / 10) (#5)
by BackSlash on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 12:18:42 PM EST

When I attended Purdue University, I was well aware of this law. A drug conviction == no more financial aid. However, Purdue took this nonsense one step further.. a drug ARREST would disqualify you from financial aid.

The precedant for this mad violation comes from the 'responsible citizen' mentality - the same line of thought that says if you don't register for Selective Service then you can't

1. Be accepted into college
2. Qualify for Financial Aid

ALL financial aid coming from Purdue fell into this category.. including the $500 - I-can't-pay-my-rent-Emergency Loan. Note, it wasn't a conviction - it was an ARREST.

Public Intox, Academic Probation, hell, even violent crimes like battery didn't qualify for a disqualification. But possession - that was the cardinal sin. 'We don't want your kind here.'

All drug arrests (and drug arrests only) were reported to Purdue by the local and campus police. About 2 weeks after your arrest you were guarenteed to get a letter to see the dean. Even if you were (eventually) acquitted, Purdue still had your arrest record.

I understand that Purdue is allowed to make its own rules (to a point), but it IS a PUBLIC university and has nowhere near the lee-way that a private university does.

It's all a scam. Charge 'undesirables' with bogus or trumped up charges (intent to distribute was ALWAYS a charge.) and make them pay their bail which is non-refundable - even in case of an acquittal. Purdue gets to evaluate if they want you in their school, and saves precious financial aid money for more 'deserving' (read: foreign) students.





There is a creeping tendency (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by weirdling on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 01:14:42 PM EST

Society today is getting entirely too fond of using arrests against one. Nevermind that one can get wrongly arrested...
So, now, tort law states that the payment should be commensurate with the loss, or whatever your lawyer can convince the jury the loss was, so if I'm wrongfully arrested for a drug charge, shouldn't I be able to sue for reparations from the police department on the order of 40 years x $30k or so in lost wages? Cool 1.2 million. Now, multiply it times the number of trivial arrests cops make, and we can see why this is a stupid idea.
So, now, instead of arresting themselves into the poorhouse, cops would probably simply ignore this behavior...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
I can't believe I'm defending shrub (4.16 / 6) (#7)
by jayfoo2 on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 12:29:43 PM EST

In all fairness your statement about how the bush administration is responsible for this is hooey. In fact this law has been in place for awhile, the bush administration is just saying that they will enforce it.

While I'm not in favor of much of shrubs policies, and I think this is a silly law, I'm going to have to agree with them on this one. I like the idea that they are going to enforce all the laws. I don't like the idea of them picking and choosing.

For example if they were to say that they were going to choose to not enforce the access to clinics act (or not say it and just stop doing it) then I would be po'd, same with lots of other good laws.

Yes there are tons of stupid laws on the books, and even some offensive ones. it is not the executive branch's role to decide which to enforce. That's what we have congress for. If the law is bad we get it repealed (go barney), we don't ignore it.

Law time limit (none / 0) (#12)
by lonesmurf on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 12:52:37 PM EST

Is there a time limit on a law? What I mean is there a set time before a law becomes null and void? If not, why isn't there? So many laws out there are made to solve a current problem which may or may not be there in 50-100 years. I'm sure that a lot of those "stupidlaws" fit into this category. A time limit would solve the problem of stupid laws staying in the books.


Rami

I am not a jolly man. Remove the mirth from my email to send.


[ Parent ]
"sunset" clauses (none / 0) (#23)
by Speare on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 01:34:40 PM EST

Some laws have specific sunset clauses, that is, that the laws must be reviewed or ended at a given time.

US Federal Budgets are usually that way: the amount to spend in 1996 for all federal program was a law passed by Congress and signed by the President. However, they're completely irrelevant for 1997 and later.

Not many other kinds of laws have sunset clauses, but I agree, they're useful and would cut down on a lot of laws. Unfortunately, the sunset length would itself become a distracting aspect of whether or not to pass laws: "No, sir, I think we must enforce the SaveDaChildren Act for thirty years, not twenty, and my constituents would rather I not vote for such an easily overturned law."
 
[ e d @ e x p l o r a t i . c o m ]


[ Parent ]

Sure, why not? (3.00 / 6) (#8)
by regeya on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 12:33:37 PM EST

Let's just spend more money to house (incarcerate) repeat offenders. Good plan. Wise use of my money (hey, I pay taxes.) No, no, don't let them improve themselves by more honest means; the wiser plan will be to encourage them to do wrong. Maybe they can get that college education in prison! Goody! So not only would I be paying their tuition, but I'd be paying their room & board, and paying people to keep constant watch on them! You're a fucking genius, Bush!

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

and the ratings on the parent comment... (none / 0) (#22)
by regeya on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 01:27:15 PM EST

...just prove that it doesn't pay to express your true feelings on k5. Thanks, guys.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

huh? (none / 0) (#44)
by omegadave on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 07:32:40 PM EST

I see a 5, two 4s, a 3 and a 1. What's the problem? What are you trying to prove? That people can't express their true feelings by rating your comment?

[ Parent ]
What would you prefer (4.50 / 6) (#9)
by finkployd on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 12:38:48 PM EST

When an administration decides it will be selective in enforcing (and following) the law, then we have worse problems than DJBonghit not getting an education :)

I disagree with this like many of us do, but I am glad to see that the current president at least seems to have some respect for the law. The proper response to this is to get the law changed, not attack Bush for enforcing it. I'm sure there are plenty of other laws he would love to not enforce. Let's be glad that he is at least not picking and choosing what to enforce like some other presidents I could mention.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
Briefly (none / 0) (#15)
by theR on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 12:59:52 PM EST

"I'm sure there are plenty of other laws he would love to not enforce."

I'm sure there are plenty of other laws that they are actually not enforcing. I certainly have not heard anything from the news or the White House about how they are going to make sure all laws are enforced properly and there will be no more selective enforcement. It seems to me that the administration has selected this law because they perceive that it will generate support for the administration in most circles, or at least the circles that they care about.

If they decided to do this for all unenforced laws, you can bet we would have heard about it.



[ Parent ]
I don't know (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by finkployd on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 01:03:07 PM EST

Until I hear about laws the administration is NOT going to persue enforcing, I'd have to assume they are enforcing them all. Have you heard anything to the contrary?

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Clarification (none / 0) (#20)
by theR on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 01:20:16 PM EST

You can't assume that all the laws are being enforced. If you were making that assumption before they said they will enforce this one, then you were wrong. Even though I have no specific examples, I think you would be just as wrong with that assumption now. They added one more law to the list of laws being enforced actively. That does nothing to convince me that the Bush Administration has any more respect for the law than any other administration.



[ Parent ]
It IS a dumb law...but not why you think (3.75 / 4) (#10)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 12:49:15 PM EST

"The obvious course for someone with no education and a wish to better himself is to go back to school. The bush administration obviously believes otherwise.

Those that have served their time should not be further punished. Isn't this in the constitution?"


One error, one probable misrepresentation and an irrelevant comment in just three sentences. Not bad.

1) Probably misrep: If the law is "on the books" it probably has nothing to do with Bush (Jr, anyway). For crying out loud, he's only been Prez for 3 months and change.

2) Error: No further punishment. So how do you explain convicted felons not being able to vote? Or sex offenders with living restrictions?

3) Irrelevant comment: "wish to better themselves". There's a subtle but very important distinction here. My objection to the law isn't "we are keeping their wishes from coming true". My objection is "education is the immediate solution to many problems and the eventual solution of ALL problems". If it was all about "wishing to better themselves" presumably you would also object to, say, cutting off art funding to convicted drug offenders. I, OTOH, only object because it is *education* that's being cut off. (I also object to the singling out of drug offenders, but you don't address that.)

Play 囲碁
Ah. Well, let's see.. (5.00 / 2) (#18)
by lonesmurf on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 01:14:04 PM EST

We'll take this case by case.

1) Probably misrep: If the law is "on the books" it probably has nothing to do with Bush (Jr, anyway). For crying out loud, he's only been Prez for 3 months and change.

You are right, this is not a law that bush created. As likely as not, this law has been on the books since the reagan administration. Perhaps longer. While Bush did not create the law, he is going out of his way to enforce it. Not because it is a law that has merit but because he (or those that advise him) believes that drugs are bad and those that do them should be punished to the utmost extent of the law. Since the advent of the war on drugs, this has been proven not to work. Drug use does not fall. Families are not broken by pot smoking parents. It is social reparation that we require for those that fall to the wayside from drug use such as heroine, cocaine, etc., not placing these people in jail and making it difficult for them to succeed in life. If bush was interested in this, he would ask congress to repeal the law and institute something more positive in its place.

2) Error: No further punishment. So how do you explain convicted felons not being able to vote? Or sex offenders with living restrictions?

I can't. Why don't you ask the supreme court. At the same time, ask them where they get their crack. It must be good shit.

3) Irrelevant comment: "wish to better themselves". There's a subtle but very important distinction here. My objection to the law isn't "we are keeping their wishes from coming true". My objection is "education is the immediate solution to many problems and the eventual solution of ALL problems". If it was all about "wishing to better themselves" presumably you would also object to, say, cutting off art funding to convicted drug offenders. I, OTOH, only object because it is *education* that's being cut off. (I also object to the singling out of drug offenders, but you don't address that.)

Yes, Better themselves. My problem with this is simple: these are not (for the most part, I assume) hardened gansta thug criminals. These are kids between 17 and 25 that made a mistake when they were young. I will not delve into whether I believe their conviction right or wrong, but I will simple say that because of this law they and their parents suffer. They will have a tough time getting a proper education and because of this will have a harder time getting a job. Their chances of becoming productive, happy parts of society diminish. How is this good for anyone? And for the record, yes, I would have a serious problem with cutting off funding to artists with drug convictions. They are an integral part of a healthy, thriving culture. Cull them and beware.

Man, are you trolling or what?


Rami

I am not a jolly man. Remove the mirth from my email to send.


[ Parent ]
It all boils (3.00 / 2) (#21)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 01:27:13 PM EST

"While Bush did not create the law, he is going out of his way to enforce it."

I vastly prefer a President that enforces ALL laws, however lame and however far he has to go "out of his way" than a President that illegally decides which to enforce on a case by case basis. The first kind is dangerous while the second is also capricious and unpredictable.

"...I will simple say that because of this law they...suffer."

So what SHOULD we do with people that break the law? Give them lollipops? Suffering is the point. It's not a bug, it's a feature.

As for this specific case, I think cutting off education funding is a bad idea, but again, only because of the education aspect. I have no problem with making it difficult (although maybe not impossible) for convicted felons to get other government funds, including art grants. Don't feed that mouth that bites your hand, to coin a phrase.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Poppycock. (5.00 / 2) (#24)
by lonesmurf on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 01:35:50 PM EST

So what SHOULD we do with people that break the law? Give them lollipops? Suffering is the point. It's not a bug, it's a feature.

Are you kidding me? Of course this is a bug. A huge one. At the kernel level. The purpose of law is to prevent bad things from happening and to protect innocent people. When you do something bad, you are proportionally punished. When that punishment is over then you should not be continuously punished. This is not something that I am pulling out of my arse here. The fifth amendment (my emphasis):

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or publ ic danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Rami

I am not a jolly man. Remove the mirth from my email to send.


[ Parent ]
Take a civics class (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 01:49:29 PM EST

"The purpose of law is to prevent bad things from happening and to protect innocent people."

This isn't even remotely true. Laws don't prevent anything. Laws describe action to take after something has happened. It is hoped that the potential action taken will prevent things from happening (as a deterrent) and for this reason the action is generally to create suffering. In fact, you contradict yourself in the very next statement: "When you do something bad, you are proportionally punished." Yes, right...suffering is a feature.

As for continued suffering: "...nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb..." This doesn't say what you think it says. "in jeopardy" refers to trials, not punishment.

Worse (for you), even if it DID mean that, denying student loans isn't a second punishment. It's just a second element of the first punishment. You don't hear anyone arguing that giving someone a life sentence constitutes "double jeopardy" do you? Think of this law as a really, really light life sentence.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
another point (3.50 / 2) (#29)
by vsync on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 02:04:33 PM EST

  • I'm actually against this law for several reasons:
    1. I think "drug convictions", in general, simply shouldn't exist.
    2. I feel that this punishment is far out of proportion to the magnitude of the crime, and throws roadblocks into the way of becoming an Educated And Useful Member Of Society.
  • That said, it's not in the least unconstitutional.
    • You can already become ineligible for student loans for other reasons, such as failing to register for the draft. In fact, if you fail to register beyond a certain age (25, I think) you are permanently ineligible.
    • No one has a constitutional right to student loans. They are giving you money you didn't have before. If they don't want to, they don't have to.


--
"The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."
[ Parent ]
Re: it's not in the least unconstitutional. (none / 0) (#43)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 06:29:37 PM EST

No one has a constitutional right to student loans.

But if you do offer them, you cannot also offer them discriminately.

Amendment XIV

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Convicts are citizens. They have served their full sentence. How about the convicts that Clinton pardoned? Why does an arbitrary government fiat exempting them from serving their full sentence satisfy their eligibility for student loans?

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Responsible officials must use common sense. (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by jolly st nick on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 11:22:25 AM EST

I vastly prefer a President that enforces ALL laws, however lame and however far he has to go "out of his way" than a President that illegally decides which to enforce on a case by case basis. The first kind is dangerous while the second is also capricious and unpredictable.

I might agree with you if laws had a reasonable shelf life -- if they had to be reviewed a few years later after the political hot blood has cooled and calmer heads can prevail.

Think of some past laws.

Do you really want to have to use a value of 3 for pi? Or drive at 55mph when you are travelling on empty, ruler straight roads in big sky country on a fine spring day? Should the employer who doesn't put up the required OSHA notices be busted every time, even if he never had heard of the law?

Remember -- laws include regulations too.

In an ideal world our laws would be so perfect, sensible and unambiguous that it never requires any kind of judgements to be made. In the real world, society could not function that way.

I think the key to having a lawful society is not the perfectly uniform treatment of laws but the perfectly uniform treatment of citizens.

This is how a society that is dependent on the judgement of its officials can still be workable. If the connected political contributor or high government official are equally subject to the law as the meanest citizen, then we have a good assurance of a just, fair and practical society. On the other hand any kind of organization that runs literally by its ostensible rules is paralyzed. This is why public employees who wish to strike but cannot by law can simply bring all productive work to a halt by obeying every rule they can think of.

There is a Chinese proverb -- many laws make many criminals. We have many laws. Government officials can and do have to act as circuit breakers to prevent the criminalization of ordinary citizens.

My problem with this law is two fold. It treats people as dangerous criminals when by most reasonable measures they are ordinary people. Secondly, it uses a determinant of criminality a standard that is not applied to all citizens equally. Affluent kids are valued and protected by government officials and almost never are tried for minor crimes.

The Clinton administration approach to this law seems to me to be perfectly crafted: to enforce the law but to take a stance that falls somewhere above a very robust presumption of innocence but not quite reaching the level of willfull blindness. I'm quite sure we will see similar kinds of judgement calls from the Bush administration about environmental laws that affect what they see as the native rights of landowners.

What the Bush administration has done is to make a value judgement. They legally do not have to enforce the law in this way. It is their choice and it flows from their beliefs and values. It is legitimate to question their judgement and values from this.



[ Parent ]

This law seems really peculiar to me (4.20 / 5) (#14)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 12:55:29 PM EST

Correct me if I am wrong, but can not most prisoners attend college for free while incarcerated? If this is in fact the case, then federal money is even now going to help drug offenders go to college.

Why, then, can ex-convicts no longer get federal financial aid?

This makes no sense to me. Of course, a good many laws make no sense to me, especially not the ones concerning federal financial aid for college tuition.

Personally, I would like to see completely free college tuition for anyone with decent grades. Of course, I doubt this will happen in the states anytime soon.

Nothing can be more pitiful and absurd than to pride oneself on one's genius
Nikolai Aleksandrovich Berdyaev, "The Ethics of Creativity"


getting offtopic (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by jayfoo2 on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 01:45:49 PM EST

This is actually close to logical compared to some laws we have on the books.

For example did you know:

It several jurisdictions in america large marshmellows are considered food and small marshmellows are considered candy. Food and candy also have different sales tax rates.

And why does this matter? Well if you're building a system that has to calculate taxes....

What's the point of this? Nothing much, I just wanted to show off my knowledge of marshmellow taxation.

Seriously tho, I know you're joking but I can't believe that almost anyone would be surprised by the (any) government doing something illogical.



[ Parent ]
You underestimate me (none / 0) (#33)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 02:48:55 PM EST

I know you're joking but I can't believe that almost anyone would be surprised by the (any) government doing something illogical.
Exactly, where did I state that I was surprised? I only stated the law didn't make sense.

Nothing can be more pitiful and absurd than to pride oneself on one's genius
Nikolai Aleksandrovich Berdyaev, "The Ethics of Creativity"


[ Parent ]

okay very true (none / 0) (#34)
by jayfoo2 on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 02:51:04 PM EST

damn that itchy trigger finger.

although this gives me an idea for a story in the sl many link style, rediculous laws and why we love em.


[ Parent ]
Why? (none / 0) (#36)
by threshold on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 03:40:04 PM EST

Personally, I would like to see completely free college tuition for anyone with decent grades. Of course, I doubt this will happen in the states anytime soon.

I'm assuming you mean federal government because most state governments couldn't afford to do that. So where in the constitution does it say the federal government has the responsibility to provide a college education? Why should the government be the one responsible? Let private instutions take care of that, scholarships are everywhere. Corporations are dying to give money away. Its great PR for them. I was able to get a $5000 in various scholarships from different corporations.


Open Source, Open Standards, Open Minds
[ Parent ]
Why? Because of a compelling interest (none / 0) (#38)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 04:00:45 PM EST

The reason why I would like to see government funded college eductation is because I believe that the state has a compelling interest in seeing the majority of it's citizens properly educated. The argument would be the same as for other publicly funded infrastructures (highways, roads, public parks). Certain items have noticably beneficial effects on our society.
I'm assuming you mean federal government because most state governments couldn't afford to do that.
It makes no difference to me. The federal government already provides Pell grants and guarantees student loans (many of which are defaulted on). Unless one is prepared to argue that these two programs are unconstitutional, I would say that the the federal government has already decided that it has some interest in financing education.

As for states not being able to afford such an endeavor, I categorically disagree in the specific cases of most of the fifty states in the US. Sure, financing college would cost money, but it would also bring in much money. The highest cost would be in starting the program. This is because the benefits from the program would not be realized for many years, if not many decades. Costs can also be controlled by a good implentation. For example, a requirement could be be made for good grades or even controversial limitations, like drug use.

Why should the government be the one responsible? Let private instutions take care of that, scholarships are everywhere.

I don't think that the government should entirely take over education. Despite government financing of public schools, private schools still abound. Some private schools even manage to prosper within the bounds of excellent school districts.

As for corporations dying to give money away, they aren't. There are a tremendous number of private scholarships available. There are not, however, enough scholarships of enough breadth to send all the people to college that ought to go to college.

The bottom line is that the government should manage education like any other resource. I believe that the USA has a compelling interest in providing a well-educated populace. I also highly doubt that I will ever live to see anything resembling what I would like to see in my lifetime. The status-quo and class divide is very firmly entrenched in the collective psyche of the USA. It will take nothing short of a visionary to get a single state, much less the entire country, to give the priority to education that ought to be given.

Nothing can be more pitiful and absurd than to pride oneself on one's genius
Nikolai Aleksandrovich Berdyaev, "The Ethics of Creativity"


[ Parent ]

Wouln't this (4.00 / 3) (#16)
by Zeram on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 01:02:45 PM EST

Disqualify 99% of college students (at least at some point)?


<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
99% (none / 0) (#40)
by BigZaphod on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 04:46:49 PM EST

Hmm.. Is drug use really that bad?

I'm in college right now and have never once used any illegal substance. Heck, I've not even used any legal drugs outside of the caffeine in my Mt. Dew. Ever. Oh, and no alcohol either. Maybe I'm just wierd, but I like to be in control of my own thoughts... Silly me.

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
[ Parent ]
I think you mean (none / 0) (#41)
by Zeram on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 05:44:15 PM EST

that prevelant. I was making a joke BTW. I would probably personally estimate drug use by college students to be somewhere about 75-80%


<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
Way too high (none / 0) (#49)
by retinaburn on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 10:47:11 AM EST

I would say maybe 50%, there is a lot of straight shooters out there. Besides it only matters the percentage convicted for this law.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
"control of your own thoughts" is oxymor (4.50 / 2) (#45)
by sayke on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 08:07:33 PM EST

silly you, indeed.

you already aren't in control of your own thoughts. "you" are something your brain does, and what your brain does is determined by a million external factors... and you are not an external factor. if anything, "you" are the interaction between a million feedback loops.

i think losing the illusion of self-control, and the cartesien vitalism that it stems from, is probably one of the greatest benefits of drug use. there is no little man named "self" inside your head that watches what your eyes see, and pulls levers and flips switches to make your muscles move. on the contrary, your body is a beautiful, fascinating, absurdly complex machine, and it's function (and your definition of self!) can be tweaked, with interesting effects, in various ways. one of these is drug use.

being afraid of doing permanent harm to one's body and mind is one thing, and may well be a reasonable objection to drug use. fearing unfamiliar experiences is another thing, but it may well be reasonable objection to drug use, too. desire to maintain a sense of control that's ultimately a counterproductive illusion, on the other hand, is just silly.


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

This isn't new. (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by aphrael on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 03:27:17 PM EST

When I started at UCSC ten years ago I had to sign, as a condition of student loans, a statement promising to not use drugs while recieving money from the loan.
<p>Not that I, or anyone else, let that keep us from using, of course.

Interesting absense. (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by squigly on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 03:57:43 AM EST

So.. Was this the only condition that you don't commit an illegal act? Can you commit murder, theft, speeding, drunk driving, and genocide without it interefering with your education, or were these prohibited as well?

[ Parent ]
There was no specification (3.00 / 1) (#53)
by aphrael on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 01:30:03 PM EST

in the loan agreement regarding *any* illegal act other than the use of drugs and failure to register with the selective service. Those were the only things which on the face of the loan would get the money yanked and make you ineligible for further student loans.

[ Parent ]
What constitution? (4.00 / 2) (#37)
by hardburn on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 03:49:03 PM EST

The US has a constitution? Why aren't I told about these things? Somebody tell them and them too!


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


the drug war continues to defeat itself. (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by rebelcool on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 04:03:55 PM EST

one day, america will pull its head out of its ass and see what fools it has elected to public office.

As for after serving time, I remind the author that in most states, convicts are not allowed to vote for several years, and must petition the governor for that right to be restored.

Except in texas of course, since Bush repealed that law in hopes of getting the convicts (a sizeable number..texas has more than any other state) on his side.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Drug felonies (3.00 / 1) (#42)
by Miniluv on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 06:28:13 PM EST

If this applies to drug related felonies, then tough cookies all you convicted felons. The current state of legal affairs in the US means that once you commit a felony you lose the majority of your rights as a citizen.

I don't care if someone does drugs, and I do not support the drug laws. However I also do not support the wanton disregard for the law that many drug proponents seem to feel is the way to go.

My slippery slope leads to a gooey-centered strawman.



The slippery slope (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by squigly on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 04:40:12 AM EST

The logical conclusion would be that a flogging, a 10 year prison sentence, a fine, then death by stoning should be given to all people for possession of any drug. How many times should someone be punished for a crime?

[ Parent ]
*sigh* (none / 0) (#57)
by Miniluv on Fri Apr 20, 2001 at 01:55:16 AM EST

That's such a strawman argument. I refuse to argue with you until you've read, understood and then shat Thomas Aquinas and Dosteovsky.

Read my post again, tell me if I'm arguing for it, or arguing that it exists.

My slippery slope leads to a gooey-centered strawman.



[ Parent ]

I agree (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by retinaburn on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 10:55:42 AM EST

Whether the drug laws are right or not they are the LAW. You commit an illegal punishable act if you buy/sell/use these drugs. If you don't like it then try to have it changed, don't whine and bitch how the 'laws unfair'.

I can't drive legally I don't have my license. I have the skills to drive, and drive better than half the people on the road. But if I drive a car and I get caught then I am punished. I don't have my license because the system we have to get it (graduated licensing in Ontairo) it sucks. I think the law stinks but I am well aware of the reprecussions if I disregard the law.

I would support drug-reform bills, I believe in the decriminilization of certain drugs but the LAW is the LAW. For better and/or for worse.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
Ah, yes, 'crime control' (4.33 / 3) (#46)
by anthrem on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 11:03:16 PM EST

The federal government is charged with simply one thing: Protection of the people. Now many will tell you this means the physical protection of the populace, with a strong military and a strong foreign policy.

As George Carlin would say, "This is really fucking stupid". While the world continues to change, the fact is that people require more help in their personal lives than they do in protection that the military provides. Certainly, I do not mean to suggest that there is no need for the military. That would be silly. However, we may need to consider changing our focus when thinking about 'protecting the people'.

My question, while sounding somewhat dopey, is a real one. What possible good is served by restricting federal scholarships to drug convicts? I am a social worker and a student of restorative justice methods. I am writing a book on prisons and the direction we take in prisons with the incarcerated. It amazes me to see that we lock more than a million people away in prisons for non-violent offenses, and expect them to come out and simply be 'good citizens'

Witholding federal funds for students who wish to better themselves, seems to be straight out of an era that ought to be past. Sooner or later, we are going to have to realize that locking people away does not solve the social ills, no matter how good it makes the populace feel or how many times it reelects politicians.

By the way, here is the article. And the best irony of all; this occured during the presidency of the shittiest liberal ever to call himself liberal, Billy Clinton.


- Slashdot is for the simpleminded -


The Problem (3.00 / 1) (#52)
by face411 on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 11:23:50 AM EST

The problem with this law is that it punishes everyday citizens for the most part.

How can anyone think that it's fair that a RAPIST or any other CONVICTED FELON can not be denied Federal Assistance to go to college but they can single out drug users?

It's obviously UNCONSTITUTIONAL, and obviously not very many people give a damn or it would have disappeared by now.

That, my friend, is a snapshot of the way the majority of our country thinks and lives...

Read the Article (3.00 / 1) (#54)
by knowfear on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 04:32:33 PM EST

From the comments, it appears many are not even reading the Salon story, or just misquoting it..
From the article:

The law withholds grants, loans or work assistance from people convicted, under federal or state law, of possession or sale of controlled substances.

This law regards only convictions, not charges.

Of 4 million applications so far, only 14,800 have refused to answer. An additional 27,000 revealed a drug conviction, but nearly half were determined still eligible after completing an eligibility worksheet, a department spokesman said.

Nearly half of those who addimitted to having a drug conviction were still eligible for for financial aid. This brings up a question, how excactly do they chose who should receive aid and who should not?


A man's mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions. -Oliver Wendell Holmes
Students for Sensible Drug Policy (none / 0) (#55)
by hupp on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 07:46:44 PM EST

Students for Sensible Drug Policy was created expressly because of this law. I highly recommend anyone in college who is interested in these issues get involved with them.

Bush is not responsible for putting the law in place, thanks for that go to Rep. Souder, R-IN. He is, however, responsible for enforcing it. Last year, the first it was in place, the law did not specify what happens if you did not answer the question. Since the Dept of Ed. was more interested in getting people educated they allowed this. Now Bush has ordered that no aid goes to those who decline the question. This creates the huge increase in persons denied aid that we are seeing this year.

As far as criteria for losing aid, all it takes is a state or federal drug conviction of any kind. This is not just felony drug trafficing we're talking about here, the vast majority are simple state misdemenor marijuana posession. I'm going to speculate that the 50% who answered 'yes' on the question but were approved for aid anyway actually had city drug ordinance violations, which are very common.

-Adam, UW-Madison SSDP

A little consistency, please (none / 0) (#58)
by King Louie on Fri Apr 20, 2001 at 08:15:37 AM EST

Many of the coments here talk about "rights" and "the Constitution." Be careful what you ask for. Think about these for a moment:

What gives you a "right" to taxpayers' money to fund your education? The government got that money by taking it from workers. In a very real sense, I am paying for the education of everyone currently making use of government-backed student loans. You are welcome to go to a private financial institution and take out a loan, and I can assure you (as one with a house payment and a car payment) that they WILL take your personal behavior and any criminal record into account when making a decision on whether to loan you money. Remember the old saw, "He who pays the piper calls the tune."

There are indeed many things protected by the Constitution. But if you read it, you will find that it is a document which presumes all people have certain rights, but in order to ensure an orderly society, they give governments a limited number of powers. Check the Tenth Amendment -- it very clearly states that only those powers specifically mentioned are granted to the federal government -- the rest are the province of state or local governments (depending upon their constitutions) or not the province of governments at all, but left to individuals. Education is not mentioned in the Constitution, therefore it is properly left to states and localities. If you would like the government to remain within the strict bounds of the Constitution, then all federally-funded student loans should be done away with.

Whether you agree with the law or not, you should at least take all factors into account when examining the question. Merely spouting thoughts on a subject without thinking through the ramifications of your opinion is a good way to find yourself out-debated.



Ban on college funding for drug convicts | 58 comments (52 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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