01 December 2005

Sue the Feds Over Refusal to Give Financial Aid

I've been involved in a number of pretty desperate attempts to try and keep a drug conviction off some kid's record so he can continue to attend school. However, I must admit that I view this as a long shot. I'm pretty sure the constitutional crimlaw issues will be judged not to apply because financial aid is a civil rather than a criminal issue. As for the equal protection claims, acting prejudicially against those who have been convicted has a long history (denial of voting rights, denial of right to have a firearm, denial of right to hold office, etc.) and I doubt this will give the courts much pause.

I understand the basic idea behind the federal legislation denying aid to those who have been convicted of drug use. If the young adult understands that he will lose the money he needs to go to college he has an incentive not to use drugs. Of course, that assumes people know about this provision and that a drunk college freshman will remember it at 2 a.m. Honestly, neither is too likely.

Still, one should be responsible for one's actions. However, the truly galling part about this is, as I understand it, this is a lifetime ban. That's just downright stupid. A two year ban would make the point and perhaps not totally throw a kid who got caught doing something dumb entirely off track. Maybe the ban should go as long as 5 years; this would give someone who has changed his life a chance to come back later and improve it. Anyone who's seen much of life knows that a lot of the things which are done 18-22 are not things which those who have grown a little have a desire to do at 30. A lifetime ban just tells someone that no matter how much he improves himself he will still be denied the opportunity to go to college (unless he somehow increases his financial lot without college, at which point this law become irrelevant anyway)..

6 comments:

KipEsquire said...

The purported logic behind lifetime penalties for convicted sex offenders (e.g. registries) is, supposedly, an extremely high recidivism rate.

But that logic simply does not apply to drug convictions -- "once a drug possessor, always a drug possessor" is simply not accurate.

Perhaps that's the distinction that should be argued.

Smitty said...

they should apply the same standards with immigration law violations.

Would that violate the "equal protection clause"?

Anonymous said...

You must understand that once you have so much as touched that dope, you are a reprobate. User are losers and if you are a user and don't end up being a loser, the government will do its best to make you a loser. What would the children think if they saw someone use drugs and then successfully complete college and live a normal life?

markm said...

Someone such as George Walker Bush?

Ken Lammers said...

3 Rules of this blog

1. No politics

2. Civility

3. No politics.

markm said...

Sorry Ken. I didn't really intend that as a dig at Bush, just to demonstrate that examples aren't hard to find - heck, I even voted for him... I first wanted to use that federal judge who Reagan wanted for the Supreme Court until he was overly open about his former marijuana use, but I have forgotten his name. OK, it cost him a Supreme Court seat, but he's still a federal judge, and that's higher than I can aspire to. Or I could have said, "Bush and probably more than half of each party in Congress." Anyone who went to college in the 60's or 70's knows that is true, whether or not you can prove it.

Actually, since Anonymous didn't specify illegal drugs, Bush and I are former users (of alcohol, at least), and like the people they represent, most of Congress are current users. ;-)