Wednesday, November 30, 2005

We're suing the feds!

SSDP sent out the following press release today. If you or someone you know has lost their financial aid because of the HEA drug provision, please get in touch with us ASAP!

Students Wanted: Help Sue the Government

Laws That Strip College Aid for Drug Convictions to be Challenged

WASHINGTON, D.C. – One of the largest student organizations in the country, in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union, is seeking plaintiffs for a lawsuit challenging the law that denies federal financial aid to students convicted of drug offenses. Since taking effect in 2000, more than 175,000 students have been deprived of aid under the “drug provision” of the Higher Education Act (HEA), often for minor offenses such as possession of marijuana.

“Congress has failed to listen to the growing chorus of student voices demanding repeal of this discriminatory and counterproductive law,” said Scarlett Swerdlow, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. “Far too many students have had their education held hostage by Drug War politics. It’s time to stand up and take our aid back.”

The lawsuit alleging that the HEA drug provision and comparable state measures are at odds with the U.S. Constitution is expected to be filed in federal court in Washington State. Potential claims in the lawsuit include violations of the Fifth Amendment’s protection against double jeopardy and the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. In addition to losing their federal aid, students with drug convictions in 23 states, including Washington State, are also stripped of their state financial aid.

“Students should not have to serve a second sentence under the drug provision of the Higher Education Act,” said Adam Wolf, an attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project. “Countless Americans have been forced to sacrifice their education to unjust and self-defeating drug war policies. It’s time we put education over politics and restore financial aid.”

More than 250 organizations have called for repeal of the HEA drug provision, including the National Education Association, the Association for Addiction Professionals, the NAACP, and the Presbyterian Church. For a full list, see http://www.raiseyourvoice.com/supporters.shtml.

Anyone affected by the HEA drug provision should call 1-866-4-HEA-FIX or e-mail hea@aclu.org to obtain further information about the lawsuit.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy, an organization with more than 115 college and high school chapters nationwide, is committed to providing education on harms caused by the War on Drugs, working to involve youth in the political process, and promoting an open, honest, and rational discussion of alternative solutions to our nation's drug problems.

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6 comments:

Kris said...

First, great title for the post:

"We're Suing the Feds"

Sweet melody.

Moving on, double jeopardy and second (& 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc.) sentences are a reality for millions of people (30 million felons– 1 in 10 people...not to mention the roster of misdemeanor drug convictions at issue) in the United States. Any tide-reversal, particularly in the realm of educational/occupational opportunity for ex-"offenders" benefits our entire society.

When an individual loses the right to employment, housing, health care, education, political voice, and public dignity...what options are left? The word "recidivism" becomes an insult.

Godspeed, in the name of JUSTICE!

Ross Wilson said...

You go!

thehim said...

This is excellent. I didn't see this before posting my roundup this week, but I will definitely post it up next week.

Thanks.

Tom Angell said...

thehim, thanks for putting the Drug War Roundup together each week and making sure that the many folks reading DailyKos have a weekly reminder about why progressives and Democrats should support drug policy reform to a much greater extent than they currently do.

Terry said...

The twin tactics of demonization and harm maximization are evident at all levels of the WOD from the National Drug Control Strategy right down to you and me.
If you fail to conform to the stereotype then the government will punish you until you do.

Danika said...

This is the best blog I have read since finding "gritsforbreakfast"! Please keep posting info on your lawsuit and just what a joke the "War on Drugs" really is. I am an addict and have seen first hand how unfair the American (in)Justice really is. What ever happened to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness anyways. I think people are just being misled by the corrupt politicians who started this war-who like Bush,like to keep the masses in total fear and unsure of what's really going on. However, ignorance is no excuse! The U.S. is going to hell in a handbasket and we need to reform many of our policies starting with the "WOD" and our foreign relations policies. I feel like this country has some crazy ways of doing things. I mean when a person goes into drug treatment in this country the first thing they teach you is that addiction is a disease- "just like cancer"they even say. However when you get caught possessing drugs-you're faced with prison time unless some shady police officer Offers you a "deal" whereby you can snitch on a few of your closest friends and get off or your family has mega bucks to get it all swept under the table. Oh and I would love to know just how the good people who in my opinion are all sleepwalking their way thru life would feel if they could finally see that for every "bad guy" sitting in jail there are at least 10 of their peers as free as bird who are the actual criminals. But they don't care-I fear-they feel safe knowing that the status quo has been met and a certain number of men and women sit in the nearby prison locked safely away from their families. Victimless crime-My Ass!! The people who had little or no money (which is all they want anyways-they could care less about reform) for a decent defense and their children, spouses, friends, relatives-They are the victims. Keep posting and fighting for an end to the W.O.D.